Harvard-Westlakeâs unique division of middle and high school into two
vaguely connected three-year chunks is accompanied by many advantages,
but sometimes it feels like students on the opposite campus might as well
attend an entirely different school.
Steps could easily be taken to bridge the gap
between the two campuses so as to retain their
individual personalities while building helpful
connections. The simplest step that comes to mind
is to create an event to allow upper school faculty
and students the chance to explore the modernized
middle school campus. How many Coldwater
students can say they have yet experienced the 800-
seat Bing Auditorium or set foot in the spacious
middle school cafeteria? Itâs not as if we feel
unwelcome, but such an event would be valuable in
uniting the two campuses and boost school spirit in
its own way. The House System is another thread
that could unite the two campuses. Maybe when all
three classes currently on the middle school campus
reach the Upper School, they could carry the House
System up with them.
Freshmen athletes often find themselves shuttled
to the Upper School to practice, and thus develop a
hazy awareness of certain key elements of the upper
school campus â the field, the cafeteria, the sports
locker room. However, performing artists and
students with other interests are rarely required or
encouraged to visit the Coldwater Campus.
Also, itâs not unreasonable to say that the
recent middle school production of âRomeo and
Julietâ went completely unnoticed by many upper
school students, and vice versa for upper school
performances. Simple acts like announcing middle
school concerts and plays at upper school assemblies
and doing a more efficient job of distributing the
Chronicle and the Spectrum at the opposite campus
would weave meaningful connections.
Maybe once a year there could be a âswap
day,â where students switch campuses and get to
experience the way the other half lives. Students
could go to sample classes with past or future
teachers and enjoy the full range of resources
Harvard-Westlake offers. Or maybe there could be
a version of the âActivities Fairâ for middle schoolers
to sample upper school extracurriculars. It would
even be helpful if a student could shadow an older
student at some point during the second semester.
The two campuses have distinct personalities and
that is a good thingâwe are not asking for the two
ways of life to blend into one continuous experience.
We like that we can reflect on the middle school and
imagine relaxing on the Fire Road or stressing in
Tech & Skills but flash back to the upper school with
entirely different memories of staying up all night or
decorating a friendâs parking space. We would just
like it if seventh grade students could feel somewhat
connected to their senior counterparts, whom they
are, at present, likely to never lay eyes on.
The tour of the Upper School on seventh grade
retreat should not be middle school studentâs
only glimpse of upper school life until they are
sophomores. The school can help build a bridge
between the two campuses to make sure all students
can take full advantage of the talented students
and teachers who attend the same school but who
basically exist in a different world.