May 2017 (Volume 67, Issue 3)
The Hilltopper Editorial Staff
This time last year, many rising juniors at NHS learned about a particularly troubling decision made by administration: the sophomore/junior study switch. Under this new directed study program put in place this past fall, freshman and juniors had study in the fall, while seniors and sophomores have study in the spring. This decision was a temporary solution to the overcrowding of studies from rising freshman classes. While there are certainly many students with full year studies whom this has not significantly affected, others, particularly juniors without a study this spring, are struggling with the repercussions of this administrative decision.
“I knew junior year would be hard,” admits current junior, Alice Rufo, who is enrolled in three AP classes and does not have a second semester study. “Though I realize that stress is normal in this time of year, I think mine would be significantly decreased if I had a free period to work, or even just to sleep during.” Many students feel similarly, and have mourned the loss of their study period since the beginning of term three in January.
Even students who are lucky enough to have room in their schedules for a study in term two agree. Brenna Goss, a current junior affirms, “I think having a study period is a lot more helpful in term 2 than in term 1 because students receive an increasing number of assignments as the year progresses, and without a study it’s much harder to stay on top of all everything that is going on at this time”. During term 2, the normal workload has quadrupled for the average junior as the added pressure from APs, SATs, finals, and writing college applications are similar to four more vital yet difficult classes.
While the school administration’s decision-making process is understandable and has temporarily accommodated the population of the rising freshman class, their solution has in fact created another problem for a large portion of the student body. For many current Juniors and underclassmen, this decision has had, and will have, significant effects on their mental health and academic experience during the latter half of their junior years. Because of the importance of this decision, NHS administration must be more receptive to the feedback and input from its students. After speaking with several administrators both last year and this year, it has become evident that many are unaware, and even ignorant, of the mental and emotional effects that this scheduling decision has had on many students. In many aspects, Needham High has grown to be a receptive and understanding community, but to truly accommodate and listen to the needs of all its students, administration must take a more active role in understanding how its decisions impact its students.