A student’s view of the ideal Malvern


Tyler Pizzico

strategic-planI attended the Strategic Planning Retreat on Monday, October 12 as a reporter, but soon found myself as an active participant.

From its onset, I knew this meeting was a unique opportunity for student input. I was able to formulate my own thoughts of what Malvern should look like in the future and compare my views to what the faculty, board of trustees, and alumni envisioned.   

Trustee Mr. Joe Carlini, who is chairing the strategic planning committee, started the retreat by speaking about the old strategic plan and the new one in development. The old plan began in 2011 and will end at the end of the 2016 school year.

This plan was deemed “revolutionary” and focused on an abundance of small goals and seven main categories: curriculum, personnel, identity/marketing, student life, enrollment, college counseling, and financial stability.

The new plan which will span over the next 3 years, on the other hand, is an “evolutionary” plan.

Then Mr. Carlini spoke to why we were truly there. Why do we need a strategic plan to be successful?

“Strategic planning allows us to set direction and priorities, get everyone on the same page, drive alignment, simplify decision-making, and communicate the message,” Carlini said.

During the retreat, we mostly worked in groups. The first group activity was to review a document drafted as a preliminary vision for Malvern in 2020. It was exciting to read, even though reading the paper was assigned as homework before the meeting.

 Although it was only a vision and did not represent the new plan at all, my group and I discovered that “Brotherhood” was never explicitly cited in this document’s draft.

With student voice, the group was able to get a sense for the importance of the seemingly intangible brotherhood at Malvern and Alum were able to relive their familial experiences.

Nearly every group referenced a need to more explicitly express brotherhood and not use it as a sales pitch, but rather something that truly separates us from other independent schools. Considering every individual in the room saw the need for brotherhood to be explicitly stated speaks to its importance in the Malvern Prep Community.

Whether you realize it or not, the entire four years a student spends in the Malvern Upper School is directed at forming a brotherhood which is ultimately solidified senior year during MECO. Beginning Freshmen year with the Brotherhood ceremony, a student becomes part of something larger than himself – something he will foster throughout his high school experience and throughout life. We may take it for granted, but Brotherhood is alive at Malvern and it creates a nurturing, caring environment that most other schools could never begin to understand.     

Later in the day, we split off into different groups. In these new groups, we were assigned an aspect of the plan, once again either academics, financial stability, and culture. I was assigned to a group that focused in on academics.

We were tasked with organizing a presentation about our topic and distributed our ideas into four categories: monitoring effectiveness, number of students vs. quality experience, the use of technology, and balance of innovation and preservation of our core traditions.

No matter what was presented by either of the groups, everything kept coming back to the idea of brotherhood. Whether it was academics and the need to measure the intangible “brotherhood” through EQ (emotional intelligence), or the need to identify brotherhood to attract more interested students for financial stability, or the need to be brotherly and accept people of all cultures, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

This is why I feel Brotherhood is a core aspect of Malvern which needs reinforcing in order for Malvern to have its own true identity and separate itself from other independent schools.

In the beginning of the retreat, we had a talk from Father Don Reilly. He said St. Augustine created a climate of unconditional love and friendship and he was never alone. Since our school was founded by his order, we should imitate his social presence.

Father Reilly mentioned that the “internal teacher” is Jesus Christ. The “external teachers” are those at Malvern directing us towards him in heaven. St. Augustine said, “Since God dwells within me, he must dwell in all those I encounter. Therefore to find God, I must find Him in my brothers.” Brotherhood is the key to finding Christ and getting into heaven, which is the main goal of a Malvern Prep experience.

The idea of Brotherhood was especially important during my journey in particular.

When I asked my tour guide at Lasalle what is the most important thing there, he said sports.

When I asked the tour guide at Devon what is the most important thing to the kids here, he said their academics.

When I asked my Malvern tour guide what is the most important thing for the students here he answered with words still audible to me three years later: “The sense of a brotherhood and a family always looking out for one another.”

I knew Malvern was an elite academic school and nationally ranked for athletics, but after hearing those words, coming to Malvern was the easiest decision of my life. Malvern brotherhood, in my opinion, is stronger than the football team, requires more dedication than academics, and is more durable than any robot we can build and the fortification of this special bond should be the fourth goal of the strategic plan.

Brotherhood is the center of the Malvern experience and if you are not connected with your brothers, you are missing all Malvern has to offer.