Advisory Period and Community circles

FLC students gather for Community Building Circles.
FLC students gather for Community Building Circles.
Gabriella DiGiacomo

As this new school year starts, lots of students are curious about the change in what we do during advisory. We went from advisory every morning to advisory once a week. Along with that, there are tons of new activities during them. This leads us to ask, what are these activities for and why are we doing them?


Each week, or every Wednesday, students gather in their homeroom and participate in group bonding activities called Community Building Circles. Lu Snyder, commonly referred to as Coach Lu, is a restorative justice coach. She is working with FLC to help keep these circles running and collaborative. During these advisories, she has been going to different classrooms and working with the students in a hands-on manner to keep them engaged. 


“What motivates me to do Community Building Circles specifically is that the connections that are made in circle are purely authentic and organic” Snyder says, “So what motivates me is really being present for the students”


The goal of these circles is to, as the name suggests, build the community in the school. They build this community through being able to speak with and understand each other, both students and teachers. Snyder’s goal is to build a “trust of vulnerability” between staff and students. 


“Students are being linked up across all of the different people within their own community,” Snyder says, “so that they can create this like beautiful culture of acceptance, inclusion; all of those like good things that you want to feel when you’re at school.” 


Strengthening the community within the school is imperative to the well-being of the students. It can impact not only the present, but the future of FLC students as well.


Aside from the interactions between each member of the community, Snyder references a specific thing the Community Building Circles are tackling; “…we’re going to like, build a culture within the school, but we’re also going to dismantle the school to prison pipeline.”


The school to prison pipeline, according to ACLU, is that “Students suspended or expelled for discretionary violation are nearly three times more likely to be in contact with the juvenile justice system the following year.” ACLU also says that these expulsions and suspensions can “disproportionately affect Black students.” 


How does this correlate with FLC?


As reported by the School District of Philadelphia, more than 50% of students within this district are Black. 


U.S. News shows that 50.1% of students just in FLC are Black. 


Snyder speaks on this topic, saying “Instead of pushing students out when… there’s a situation or there’s conflict…or suspension, what we’re going to do is we’re going to do restorative practices like restorative conversations… so that instead of a suspension…which is a punitive discipline measure, we’re going to do a restorative measure…” Along with this, she says, “when you’re doing these restorative practices, it makes sure that students have accountability to themselves and to their community, so that they can learn how to heal the harm that’s caused or to like uplift each other in a way that’s really positive.”


These Community Building Circles go directly hand-in-hand with the School District of Philadelphia’s plan to combat this pipeline. 


As written in “Emphasizing Equity within School Climate: Reflections on the Equity Data Training Series, “school leaders will action plan on building connections with the entire school community based on data and evidence-based practices.” That is exactly what the community circles are doing. 

Community circles are able to build connections between the students, their teachers, and their community as a whole. 


“The great thing about circles is that there is no end,” Snyder says. “The topics that we talk about in the circle are so vast and encompassing of like the human experience that there is no end to it.” 


Sticking true to her dedication, Snyder speaks on the length of the circles as a whole and how long she’ll be with us. 


“I’m going to be here this year, I’m gonna be here next year.” Snyder states,”This doesn’t go away after a season or whatever. It is a continuous cycle of like connecting and relationships.”

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Gabriella DiGiacomo, Marketing Editor
Gabriella DiGiacomo is the social media editor for The Flash. She is a sophomore at FLC and majors in Medical Assisting. She's interested in photography, art, and poetry.
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