Campus Life Update

Wednesday, February 04, 2015 - By: Marius Felix

Last week at our assembly, I addressed the school and asked how each of our students want to define themselves here at Brentwood and tried to explain to them how their choices ultimately define their character and how others perceive them.

I also explained why the school has certain school rules which all students must follow and how there are times when our students makes decisions which compromise their places here at the school.

The developing teenage brain is fascinating. The area of the brain which controls decision making, among other functions, is the prefrontal cortex. Many authors have indicated an integral link between a person's personality and the functions of the prefrontal cortex. This brain region has been implicated in planning complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making and moderating social behavior.

Teenagers are, in vastly varying degrees, risk takers, which is why their decision making and the moderation of their social behaviors can often be a significant challenge for themselves, their parents and educators. For some teenagers, the "here and now, instant gratification" moment can overwhelm the more measured thought process that considers short and longer term consequences, whether good or bad.

In our partnership with the Brentwood parent community, I have never had a parent complain to me about our school rules when they read them with their children, and when their sons and daughters sign the statement of personal responsibility prior to arriving at the school. Indeed, many parents are really pleased we have a clear set of school rules that explain how we will respond when a major school rule is broken and they tell us that is a reason why Brentwood is their choice of school.

It is when students get themselves into trouble here at the school that some parents then question our responses to their child's behaviors. The majority, while disappointed in their child's choices, are incredibly supportive of the consequences their son or daughter may face, however difficult that may be, and use the events as an opportunity to help their child learn a valuable lesson moving forward.

Some parents, however, want the school to change our stand and make exceptions for their children, a response I understand. Nonetheless, we stand by the rules and apply them as well as we can.

In order to run a school that is safe, supportive, nurturing, demanding and educationally innovative, we need to be able to rely on students we can trust and who respect the environment and the opportunities we offer. As a school, we are not naïve. Teenagers are curious about social behaviors, often modeled by adults. Teenagers (and adults) are vulnerable as well to peer pressure, a need to be accepted within a peer group, and a host of other influences that require careful and measured consideration. Often, lacking experience when confronted with these challenges (there is the prefrontal cortex again) can lead to a poor decision, and as adults we know that poor decisions can have consequences.

Brentwood continues to evaluate our school rules. If, as a parent, you would like to provide me with your opinion, you are welcome to contact me and we can have that conversation.

Marius Felix, Assistant Head​

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