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School Culture & Traditions

Harlem Academy Pillars and School Creed

Our focus on preparing students to maximize their potential is guided by four community pillars: initiative, integrity, compassion, and determination.  The school creed is an aspirational statement that encourages every student to continue striving for growth.  Each verse ties to one of the four pillars:


I am bold and creative.
I take opportunities to lead.
I seek help when I need it.


I am honest and reflective.
I choose to do what is right,
Even when it is hard or no one is watching.


I listen carefully.
I speak kindly.
I care for my community.


I make the most of each day.
I learn from my mistakes.
I don't give up.

The creed guides students in decision-making and serves as the foundation for a perpetual cycle of learning, reflection, and improvement. Daily practices and traditions reinforce these values. 

Community Meeting

The Community Meeting is among Harlem Academy’s most cherished traditions. Held weekly in both the lower school and middle school, the meeting begins with a teacher’s greeting and the recitation of the School Thanksgiving:

We are thankful for friendship and good health,
For our school and our teachers,
And for the families who have given us our homes.

We are thankful for the differences that help us learn,
And the common purposes that bring us together.

We are thankful for our city, our country, and the world around us,
For a hope to be shared with all people,
And the trials which help us to know ourselves.

(Adapted from Camp Timanous, Raymond, ME)

The meeting continues with teachers formally commending the positive contributions of students who exhibited exemplary behavior or growth. A weekly message then examines an aspect of the school creed, emphasizing the habits most critical to students’ success. To close the meeting, community members shake hands, recite the creed, and share a quiet moment for reflection before a silent recessional.

Each fourth and eighth-grade student has a chance to lead a community meeting where they share a message about how the pillars and creed can be put into action in our daily lives.

Annual Events

We take joy in celebrating students’ accomplishments and sharing time with one another as a community. Below are some of our favorite annual events.

Orientation brings our school community together to ensure a smooth transition into the upcoming school year by reviewing systems and communication as well as best practices to support a productive and successful school year for all students.

Fall meetings are a chance to learn more about grade-specific curricula in the academic subjects and advisory and begin planning for grade-level family volunteer projects.

The Harvest Fest is a community celebration featuring 1 and 5-kilometer races, fall-themed crafts and food, sack races, and a culminating tug-of-war.

Chess tournaments are hosted on a regular basis on weekend afternoons and are open to students at any grade level who want to test their abilities and try to improve their ranking.

The Halloween Parade is celebrated each year with an afternoon treat and a parade around the neighborhood.

The Thanksgiving Feast is a lower school tradition where each classroom is set up with desks forming one large table and a bounty of healthy, delicious food is prepared by families.

The Staff Appreciation Lunch is hosted by graduating eighth-grade families for all teachers, and serves as a wonderful opportunity to celebrate their combined efforts in getting our students to this very important milestone.

Family Game Nights are opportunities for students to share the games (chess, checkers, mancala, and others) that they have learned in school with their extended family members.

Celebrations of Learning are events that each class hosts several times per year, starting in late fall or early winter, to honor and share their work.

Field and Family Day takes place on the second to last day of school each spring. Students and teachers spend the morning in the park, sharing a variety of fun, cooperative challenges, as well as time for friendship and reflection on the year.

Moving Up Day introduces students to some of the teachers and programs they will experience in the coming year.

Graduation takes place on the last day of school. During the ceremony, each graduating student shares a brief message about how one of their classmates lived up to the school creed.