Trinity-Pawling School

Trinity-Pawling’s Student Senate has been around since the early 1990s, established for students to voice their opinions and promote good communication between all segments of the school community. It is composed of boarding and day students from all grade levels, elected by their classmates or appointed by faculty members. Dean of Faculty Todd Hoffman became the faculty advisor of the Senate when he joined the School in 2001. Year to year, he has witnessed the Senate evolve and change — but the importance of its presence on campus has remained steady.

“Students in the Senate learn to listen to one another, work together, and find logical solutions to their concerns on campus,” shared Hoffman. “It’s such a rewarding experience for them.”

At the start of this school year, the Senate was reinvigorated and currently has over 40 members! Dean of Residential Life Dutch Keel was thrilled with the high interest level of students running for a spot in the Senate — but it did not come without challenges. “That’s a lot of voices in one room,” Keel shared. “In the first meeting, the boys quickly learned that listening is crucial, especially when working together for the common good.”

Now two months into the school year, the Student Senate has already seen success with some of their proposed changes on campus. “Key card access was new at the start of the year. In the first month of school, members of the Senate proposed that dorm access be extended in the evenings to promote peer collaboration and extra help,” shared Keel. “And they were successful!”

Keel explained that one of the most important takeaways for students in the Senate is experiencing the process: listening to their constituents, proposing a reasonable solution, communicating the benefits of their suggestions, and working cohesively as a team. “They are building leadership and communication skills every step of the way.”

Lucas Hughes ’20 is an active member of the Student Senate this year. “Our goal is to make life at Trinity-Pawling the best it can be for students,” Hughes shared. “We are focused on receiving new ideas, discussing the pros and cons, and proposing ways to implement them on campus.” Hughes and his fellow members of the Senate are proud to be the voice for the student body. Sony Wang ’23 is in his first year serving in the Senate and believes its importance is unmatched. “The Senate gives every student a chance to give their opinions to the School and Headmaster Taylor.” Quite simply, it allows the students to be heard.

“They’re learning to build a unified voice,” shared English teacher Cyrus Rothwell-Ferraris, who is working as a faculty advisor of the Student Senate this year. “The boys have a chance to work in a self-governed space and see outcomes that precisely reflect how well they manage their meetings. It’s a valuable learning experience all around.”

As the Senate continues to meet throughout the year, its members are eager to see their suggestions come to life on campus. “It’s all about growth…personally and collectively as a school,” concluded Hughes. “We’re looking forward to seeing more of our ideas in action.”

by Emma Christiantelli