Upper School student life
Life outside the classroom is an important piece of the Upper School experience. In our extensive student life programs, students find their passions, pursue new interests, and become leaders in areas that excite and engage them.
The two most popular areas of Upper School student life are athletics and our theatrical and musical ensembles. Nearly 75% of Upper School students are members of at least one of SPA's 90 teams in 17 sports; and almost as many--more than 70%--play an instrument, sing in a choir, or participate in one of the three annual theatrical productions. Many Upper School students are both athletes and artists, and most students are members of at least one of the many Upper School student clubs and organizations.
The Upper School Dean of Students (see below) oversees most aspects of the student life program, including the foundational advisory program. Some elements of student life are part of the curriculum and required for all students, such as the Advisory program and Senior Speeches; others are optional and may take place off-campus, such as the Odyssey and Junior Semester Away programs.
Meet the dean of students: max delgado
The Upper School Office of the Dean of Students—known as "the Deanery" to students—is at the heart of student life in the Upper School. Dean of Students Max Delgado works with the Upper School principal, students, and teachers on all aspects of student life, from student clubs and organizations to social events to the student-run Disciplinary Committee. "This is a school that has a big appetite for exploration. It’s a school where you’re able to pursue your passions with some freedom, and where a lot of different kinds of kids can thrive," Delgado says. “The result is that you see kids take big risks here—singing a song or making a Senior Speech in front the entire school—and then, even more amazingly, everybody knows exactly how to support that kid." He sees this phenomenon as a part of the SPA culture. "This is an accountable place," he says. "If kids hear about something another student did that they think is great, they’ll reach out and let them know, and if they see something they don’t like, they’ll risk saying something, too. I've seen this in action and I think it's pretty special." Delgado, who joined SPA in the fall of 2014, originally considered a career in family therapy but an offer to serve as assistant dean at a college preparatory school in California pulled him into secondary education. "There are so many pivot points in adolescence where kids are both guarded and vulnerable as they’re making big decisions about life," Delgado says. "During these years, kids are becoming who they want to be, how they want to be, and I enjoy being at ground zero for that." Delgado earned a B.A. in English from Fordham University and an M.F.A. from California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Before coming to Minnesota, he worked as a Care Coordinator and Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Counselor at an adolescent treatment center in Oakland, California. He then transitioned into education where he served as an Associate Dean of Students and Associate Student Life Director at a college preparatory school in Oakland. In 2011, he joined The Blake School in Minneapolis as a grade-level dean, an English teacher, and Director of the LearningWorks at Blake program.