School announces new initiatives

Alexander Dinh and MeJo Liao

The school is instituting multiple policy changes that focus on the school’s goals of student wellness and maximizing post-secondary opportunities, according to an email sent to 10th and 11th-grade families by Head of Upper School Beth Slattery on Feb. 9.

The email said the school is hoping to improve student wellness through a rotating seventh block, Advanced Placement (AP) and Honors maximums, the creation of a wellness center and a new sophomore advisory. In addition, the school is working to maximize students’ options throughout the college process by adding weighted GPAs to transcripts, hiring two additional deans and removing grade requirements to take Honors English III and Honors United States History to maximize students’ options throughout the college process.

Slattery said she has seen the school evolve to prioritize student mental health, as well as strong academics.

“I love that we’ve evolved to be a place that really thinks that excellence is more than just grades and test scores and college results,” Slattery said. “Excellence also involves people being well and thriving. I just love the idea of having more kids thrive and have [our school] be joyful.”

Counselor Michelle Bracken, who was on the original scheduling team, said the removal of grade requirements for Honors English III and Honors United States History, the creation of wellness center, and changing the AP and Honors Maximums were instituted to allow students to choose courses that will allow them to pursue their interests.

“I do feel that we are trying to move more in the direction of [prioritizing mental health],” Bracken said. “It’s something that we have to incorporate into the culture of the school, and that’s one of the harder things. By changing the schedule and the culture, we are approaching things from a mental health standpoint.”

Jackson Hoffmann ’25 a member of the tennis team, currently has block seven free to accommodate for early dismissals on match days. .Hoffmann said that a rotating seventh block will allow him to take more electives.

“This year I was planning on taking all seven classes, but I was forced to drop one of the classes because I play tennis,” Hoffmann said. “I’m excited to be able to take computer science next year, now that I don’t need block seven free.”

Wellesley Li ’25 said that while she appreciates the flexibility students will achieve through a rotating seventh block, students who do sports with weights practices will find a rotating seventh block more inconvenient.

“Many students are required to do weights which are scheduled at block seven for their sports,” Li said. “If there is a rotating seventh block, that is going to be incredibly inconvenient for me and a lot of other athletes. Specifically, we have to change and get to the gym, which is quite a hassle. Worse, having to get back into an academic environment after working out is hard and uncomfortable, which is going to discourage people from doing weights. I hope the school can either change the weights schedule or accommodate the needs of athletes doing weights.”