After creating a committee of faculty to adjust the start of the academic year, Head of School Margarita Curtis made a decision for the school to return earlier. The change resulted in mixed reactions from the community.
Specified leaders (Green Keys, Proctors, etc.) and international students are scheduled to arrive on Tuesday, September 4. New students and varsity candidates arrive the next morning. Finally, returners arrive on Thursday, September 6, with the first day of class on Friday, September 7. On Saturday, there will be the first school meeting, and academic orientations will occur throughout the weekdays at the beginning of study hours.
“I think it’s a pretty exciting opportunity. I’m excited about setting aside time for us to better prepare students for the academic work they will face in the upcoming year. The idea is, instead of reacting to academic problems at the end of the term, it is better to equip students proactively with the tools they need to succeed from the beginning,” explained Academic Dean Peter Warsaw.
While one of the main initiatives for the earlier start is to allow the students to prepare for the challenges they will face in the academic year, Assistant Dean of Students Amie Creagh, who led the proposal, insists upon the value of the change to the faculty as well. “It was with adjustments to the timing of the faculty meetings that we began to consider a more comprehensive set of changes to all of the opening days, because those days do seem frenetic, crazy, overwhelming, and we all feel exhausted on the first day of classes,” Ms. Creagh said.
However, there were disagreements within the community when the change to the timing of faculty meetings was first announced. Committee member and history teacher, Rebecca Melvoin said, “Faculty members now have to return before Labor Day. That may be why some faculty members may be hesitant about the change because they are giving up two days of vacation. But changing the opening days schedule and making it much more structured will hopefully help make everyone feel better.”
Students also had some say in the matter. Anthony Lauw ’14 said, “I understand the teachers may face new difficulties from the earlier dates. However, as a student, I personally don’t have much to argue against the subject and I think it is overall a great initiative to let the new students have an easier transition into the school year.”
Some faculty members expressed concern about the August 29-30 faculty meetings. Nonetheless, as Ms. Creagh said, “It has been a pretty comprehensive process that got us to where we are with the schedule as it is. We gathered student perspectives during advisory meals, faculty feedback, and a whole committee process with members from all different facets of the campus community. Now, we can safely say that we can give this a try.”