Students tread lightly on the Guiding Principles

As the new academic year began, Woodstock focused in on shaping its students to become better world citizens. One way to achieve this has been through the school’s Guiding Principles, an integral part of the school’s educational philosophy. Even though the principles are not new, it is this year that the school started truly emphasizing them.

The principles are regularly mentioned in assemblies, homerooms, and even during classes — they are now framed and hanging in every classroom. The school also addressed them during the student retreat in July.

The five Guiding Principles are:

  1. We pursue wholeness.
  2. We seek well-being.
  3. We elicit greatness.
  4. We value compassion.
  5. We tread lightly on the earth.

Mr. Ethan Van Drunen, vice principal, said that the Guiding Principles are “a set of institutional values, and the Guiding Principles document the core of these values and their importance.”

Mr. Van Drunen also said that the principles are meant to guide the administration’s decision-making.

Adding to that, Mr. Simon Paul, chaplain, said, “The Guiding Principles are simply about life. They define how one is as a person. They are meant to help individuals explore themselves and help them figure out who they are.” Mr. Paul is also greatly involved in the enforcement of the principles around the community.

However, many students are not aware of the principles, despite the fact that it is a topic frequently brought up by staff.

When asked what he thinks about the first Guiding Principle, “We pursue wholeness,” Ahaan Nayar, Class of 2019, said, “I don’t really know.”

Students that are aware of them, however, shared mixed opinions.

Manasvi Singh, Class of 2019, said, “These Guiding Principles are a foundation for Woodstock and something that everyone needs. It’s great that we are focusing on them so much.”

Others believe the principles are unrealistic for a place like Woodstock.

“The Guiding Principles are good and make sense, but in a community like Mussoorie they’re really hard to follow, and they are not something everyone can do,” said Amani Mohan, Class of 2021.

Similarly, Suryansh Singh, Class of 2021, said, “[The Guiding Principles] are hypocritical in some senses and are close to impossible to achieve with the environment and mindset at Woodstock.”

Some students even question the school’s motive behind the focus on the principles.

“The school is just trying to become a part of the trend to produce leaders because all big schools in the country and around the world want to ‘produce leaders,’” said Savya Agrawal, Class of 2021, referring to the third Guiding Principle, which aims to “elicit greatness.”

In comparison, the fifth Guiding Principle, “tread lightly on the earth,” received positive reactions.

Daniel Swarup, Class of 2019, said, “All the other Guiding Principles are way too personal, and this is the only Guiding Principle that will benefit the community, and everyone can contribute towards this in a meaningful way.”

Mr. Paul also referred to the emphasis on protecting the environment through the principles. He said, “The principles are the key for looking out for the planet.”


Photo by Janvi Poddar

Edited by Aarti Malhotra. 


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