Bridging the Campus Gap

Harvard-Westlake’s 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? It’s 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 – 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, it’s not unreasonable to say that the


recent middle school production of “Romeo and


Juliet” 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 “swap


day,” 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 “Activities Fair” 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 thing—we 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 friend’s 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 student’s


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.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login