Dear future Head of Upper School Laura Ross,

Dear future Head of Upper School Laura Ross,

Anna Gong/Chronicle

Welcome to Harvard-Westlake; we’re glad to have you here. For students here, the beginning of a new school year is characterized by syllabi outlining teachers’ expectations and rules for the class. Though intimidating, these documents are often helpful in understanding what our teachers may want from us in an assignment. In this spirit, we wanted to extend to you the same courtesy.

Below is our syllabus for you, a document detailing what we hope to see from you next year. To be clear, we are not trying to criticize the current administration, but rather express to you what we as an editorial staff value in the hopes that it may be of some help to you.

1. Talk to us. Sit in on our classes.

President Rick Commons has done a great job of this so far, joining us at our lunch tables, learning our names and familiarizing himself with what daily life for a Harvard-Westlake student is like. We have appreciated this effort and feel that it has led to better relations between the student body and the administration — administrators feel less like out-of-reach figures and become real people we interact with every day.

Former Head of the Upper School Audrius Barzdukas taught Choices and Challenges classes, which was an excellent way to reach out and get to know sophomores. We think, however, that the community would benefit from you taking this a step further by sitting in on classes for all grade levels.

2. Be involved in all student activities.

Harvard-Westlake has tons of extracurricular activities; sports, choir, theater, improv groups, instrumental groups and the list goes on. Oh, and, of course, our award-winning newspaper. In all seriousness, students are passionate about these activities. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and time for an artist to complete a collection, for a musician to master a piece, for the robotics team to finalize their creation.

So we want you to be there to witness the culmination of these efforts. Be a Fanatic but not just for sports; be a Fanatic for the entire school.

3. Be transparent.

There’s a lot that goes on at Harvard-Westlake that students don’t know about and frankly that we wouldn’t particularly care about. There are certain functions, however, that impact our lives in a big way that have been shrouded in mystery for quite some time.

The Honor Board is an example of this. As it is right now, the Honor Board is kind of like Dr. T. J. Eckleburg — an all-knowing omnipotent figure that watches over us. Perhaps some of this ambiguity is vital to its function, but we would like to know more about how and when decisions are made. We as the Chronicle have tried to clear up some of this haziness in our feature on the Honor Board’s functions on C4-5, but we want to see an administrative effort to do so, in this matter and others.

Another big question on a lot of students’ minds is the allocation of school funds. When a school has as large an endowment as Harvard-Westlake does, it makes one wonder. Having a clearer idea where the money goes would probably stop students from feeling neglected.

4. Address current events and their impact on our community.

In our August editorial, we discussed our hope for the faculty and administration to discuss current events and prepare us to be citizens of the world. Commons’ letter addressing student reactions to the election and the importance of community and kindness was a great step in the right direction.
So we ask you to continue and maintain this trend. When something happens in the world that affects our lives, address it and help us process it. We may be able to do multivariable calculus on our own, but we still need your help and guidance to understand tragedies and world events.

We wish you the best of luck and hope these tenets can help you in some way. Most of all, we hope you love it here as much as we do.

Sincerely,
The Chronicle Editorial Staff

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