Back to (elementary) school

By Shannon Tseng | Staff Writer

For the 2015-2016 school year, most students were switched into new advisories because of the new Illuminate system; however, in spite of these rearrangements, the school administration hopes that advisory will become a time for students to relax and destress.

“We had a new system that does not have the ability to roll one roster over to the next roster,” explained Principal Sarah Smoot, who is at the head of advisory changes.

However, not all teachers wanted the change. According to Mrs. Smoot, around 50 teachers chose to keep their old advisories. Students who wish to return to their old advisories will need a good reason.

“We’re not going to have an open petition process for switching advisories,” clarified Mrs. Smoot. The principal elaborated that it is difficult for the office to handle 2300 potential advisory changes. If the majority of sophomores, juniors, and seniors wish to return to their original advisories, the change may displace some freshmen and upset the balance of 25-30 people in an advisory. Constantly moving freshmen around will deprive them of “the opportunity to build community and find a home, [and] we don’t want to do that to them,” said Mrs. Smoot, “We now know a better way of doing this, so next year we’ll probably be able to just either roll all advisories over or see what the school wants to do in the spring.”

Besides changing teachers, admin is giving advisory a new purpose.

“This year, the theme [for advisory] is recess. It’s related to the stress survey that was done last year,” explained advisory coordinator Susan Jorgensen. According to the survey, a “vast majority of students were experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress.”

“The idea is that in order to destress, we try to find ways so that students can play,” said Mrs. Smoot. Mrs. Jorgensen plans on giving students time to enjoy their own hobbies.

“Advisory would give students time to play the guitar, or knit, or play sudoku,” said Mrs. Jorgensen. Admin hopes that these changes will lower stress levels in students, creating a happier learning environment.

When introduced to the concept of “recess advisories,” senior Julia Peng responded enthusiastically, “I like the idea. We haven’t had recess since elementary school. It’s nice to do something that can take our minds off of this culture of achievement we’ve developed.”

Senior Justin Wang plays Pictionary with friends during advisory. (Photo: Shannon Tseng)
Senior Justin Wang plays Pictionary with friends during advisory.
(Photo: Shannon Tseng)