1) Make ninth grade feel more like high school: Ninth grade is great: you’re the big man on campus, you get to play on high school sports teams and you still get a week off for retreat. That said, ninth grade feels like an extra year of middle school. A student can step on the upper school campus the first day of 10th grade never having been there before, and that’s not okay. All-school convocation is a good step, and there should be more integrated high school events throughout the year.
2) Bring back semiformal: It’s been three years since the events that led to semiformal’s cancellation. Most of the Upper School never attended semiformal, and the seniors who did were not involved with or invited to the afterparty in question. Although the past two years have brought valiant attempts to make up for semiformal’s absence, the fact remains that we don’t have a single formal high school dance. We’ve learned from our predecessors’ mistakes, but now we’re missing out on a crucial rite of passage, and we want it back.
3) Sell gum and mints in the cafeteria: We know this isn’t that important, but hear us out. They taste good, they make your breath smell good and they’re not completely unhealthy (like the candy that we still miss). It’s a win/win/win situation—what’s not to like?
4) Set midterms before winter break: Let’s settle this debate once and for all. Having midterms in January doesn’t save the last week before break for holiday fun and merriment; it creates a set of pseudo-midterms, where you’re tested in every subject that last week of school, and then again during official midterms week a mere month later. With midterms earlier, the new year would truly mean a new, less stressful start.
5) Forge a relationship with the student body: There’s no question Tom Hudnut was an excellent leader who transformed Harvard-Westlake into the school it is today. However, after his role shifted from headmaster to president, many students’ sole interaction with him was shaking his hand at commencement. We applaud your decision to put your office in Seaver Hall, closer to the student body, and we hope to see you make similar endeavors to get to know us. We’ll wave on our way to history class; maybe we could do lunch.
We know this doesn’t all fall under your direct jurisdiction. However, these suggestions come straight from members of your new student body, so please consider them as you settle into campus.
The Chronicle Editorial Board