Despite stress, students take 8 classes

The Student Handbook, meant to lay out the school’s policies on students’ academic and daily lives, says “every upper school student must take five academic classes. Some students may take more than five courses, particularly those who double in foreign languages or take arts or other electives.”

Head of Upper School Harry Salamandra says that four years ago, a committee conducting studies on students’ workload decided that students should not be allowed to take eight classes, so they could be guaranteed at least one free period a day.

The only exception to this rule would be a single trimester of physical education so that each student can fulfill his or her physical education requirement.

However, many students slip through the cracks and take eight classes.
Since the rule is not clearly written down, the deans do have the ability to adapt the rule to any particular situation.

Among other things, Salamandra notes that taking eight classes will most likely affect a student’s sleep and ability to eat lunch at school.

When Lauren Jackson ’08 stopped playing basketball this year, her schedule changed in more ways than adding a long walk to yoga class at Hamilton.She lost the luxury of a block and having extra free periods.

Jackson’s dean mentioned to her last February that she shouldn’t take yoga for all three trimesters. 
But when her schedule was mailed to her this summer she was signed up for all three trimesters, implying to her that her dean was fine with it.

Jackson takes six academic solids, five of which are either A.P. or honors classes.

“I always run out of time,” she said. “I never have enough time to finish anything.”

Dorothy Etra ’08, whose dean actually encouraged her to take eight classes to free up her schedule for next year, stopped taking yoga in the middle of the trimester because she needed more free periods.

She now takes swimming before school to fulfill her P.E. requirement.

“If there is another way, then I wouldn’t recommend taking [eight classes],” Etra said.
Jackson, on the other hand,` isn’t as firm in her beliefs.

“Yeah, it’s stressful, but it’s not horrible,” she said.

She chuckles, “Well, yeah, it is.”