Character & Community


Beyond academics, arts, and physical education, throughout the school day, Poly students learn about making good choices and helping others and what it means to be part of a community. Poly’s Institute for Ethics and Leadership (IfEL) is the school’s character development initiative that spans from Nursery through Grade 12. There are four pillars to IfEL: diversity, equity & social justice; health & wellness; service learning; and sustainability. 

In Lower School, IfEL encompasses student-to-student community-building where older children mentor younger “buddies” by reading, playing, and learning together. Classes also join together when each grade participates in an annual community service project. Older students decide which cause to support and actively shape our service projects, from inception to completion. Families participate in larger school events like Prospect Park Cleanup and Passport to Poly. Activities like these and others listed below, fuel connection and community-mindedness.

A few recent Initiatives:

Green Challenge – Led by our third graders, children in each class publicly committed to reducing the Lower School’s energy use, waste production, and overall environmental impact.

Festival of Lights – Students develop and lead presentations on the many winter holidays that cultures around the world celebrate. After the presentation, the entire Lower School comes together for a special family-style meal.

Ally Week – Students learn what it means to be an ally in age-appropriate ways. Our youngest students discuss how to be a good friend, while our older students discuss allyship with the LGBTQ+ community and learn how to be an upstander instead of a bystander.

PolyCultura – An annual tradition where families celebrate the many cultures of our community through performances, lessons, interactive activities, and more.

Identity Celebrations – Throughout the year, students learn about and celebrate the richness of our community by celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, LGBTQ+ History Month, Native American History Month, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Asian American Pacific Islander History Month. We share our learning through special assemblies, hallway displays, family projects, and weekly assignments and activities. Affinity spaces like Banana Splits are also available for students.

Clubs – Students in third and fourth grade have the opportunity to participate in a variety of clubs. These enrichment clubs are great ways for students to explore their identities and interests in fun ways. Clubs have included: Worm Club (composting), Newspaper Club, Girl Up Club, The New Boys Club, Gluten Free Club, Read under a Tree Club, and many more!