BELIEVE IN BETTER
As a Benedictine school, we’re very much about community,” says the Brother Paul Diveny, Headmaster of Delbarton School. “Our mission statement is a list of ‘We Believes’, starting with: ‘We believe that God calls us into this community’.”
Set in spacious, verdant grounds in the historic town of Morristown, New Jersey, Delbarton is a private, all-boys Roman Catholic day school. It provides a high-quality education from grades 7 to 12, and accepts students of all cultures and faiths. Those who have had the privilege of studying there refer to their time at the school as the “Delbarton Experience”.
So strong is the affinity that many develop, that large numbers of Delbarton boys return to marry and have their children baptised there. The school’s attractive formal garden has even proved a popular spot for proposals. “If your daughter’s dating a Delbarton boy,” says Brother Paul, “and announces that she’s being taken to see the Delbarton garden – be prepared.”
The Benedictine order has long regarded learning as a process that surpasses the simple acquisition of knowledge, and see it as a quest for wisdom through reflection and the search for meaning. At Delbarton, boys are encouraged to take responsibility for their own education, to wish one another well and to compete academically with themselves rather than with each other. “There’s no stigma at Delbarton for a boy to be smart,” says Brother Paul. “Here, it’s actually cool to be smart.”
A little respect
In the process of creating leaders of the future, Delbarton places particular importance on respect for others and giving back to the community. “A beloved former faculty member had a saying that has become a kind of mantra: ‘God first, others second – I’m third’,” says Brother Paul. “Sometimes, saying the word ‘Third’ reminds you straight away that you’ve got your values out of whack.” In keeping with the Benedictines’ veneration of the arts, students take part in a vibrant programme of music, theatre and visual arts. Throughout their final year, all boys are required to take an arts course, which serves to counterbalance the stress of university exams.
In response to the events of 9/11, some Delbarton students created a triptych comprising images of the school. At the bottom of the piece were the words: “Here, we belong”. The phrase caught on immediately, and has recently been added to the school’s “We Believe” statements. “This motto came not from the school administration but from the boys,” says Brother Paul. “To hear them say that about our school was very powerful.”