Arthur Morgan School is a community, and in many fundamental ways the lives of everyone here — students and staff — are shared. Not only do we learn together, we cook, clean, hike, travel, build, plant and harvest together. Each year it takes time for the group to develop its sense of unity and direction. AMS strives to be a safe place for people to express their feelings. The group spirit that results from our endeavors is essential to the success of our community.
Boarding students live in four family-style homes with four or five students and two house parents. They share morning, evening and weekend meals together and work cooperatively to cook, clean and maintain the home. There are basic rules that students must follow; however, the day-to-day running of the houses is up to each individual house group, which creates its own family atmosphere. On most weekends, housemates will do work projects together and may go on outings to do grocery shopping or to do something fun together off campus. The bonds that are made between students in a house and between students and their houseparents are among the strongest and most enduring connections made at the school.
Students and staff entertain themselves and each other. Leisure activities include skateboarding, reading, art, playing and listening to music, and playing games. Special Saturday night activities, such as talent shows, dances or attendance at performances off campus, are organized by the students.
Once a week the whole school gathers for All School Meeting to share ideas, plan special events and find solutions to problems. Instead of voting, we use the Quaker consensus decision-making process in which each person has input and compromises are sought. Each student is encouraged to speak. In this way students participate directly in making decisions that affect them.
When there is a difficulty that requires special attention, smaller groups meet. In all meetings, people take turns speaking without interruption. When there is disagreement, we listen carefully to one another, identify problems and work on solutions that are best for the group as a whole. AMS is a staff-run school, and the staff also uses consensus and thereby models a cooperative decision-making process.
AMS is not for everyone. Learning to live together as a close-knit community requires a lot of openness and responsibility. Yet, for those who are willing to work and grow together, the rewards are rich and enduring.