Opinion: Reflecting on a year of advisory

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WSPN's Sarah Mitty discusses the past year of advisory and suggests some changes for the future.

I can’t believe a year has gone by since we started advisory. I can still re-create in my mind the initial awkwardness of walking into a classroom filled with random kids of various ages who I knew only as names off the dreaded advisory email I received last summer.

Now, walking into that same classroom almost nine months later, the awkwardness is just as prevalent. The only difference is that now, it is a familiar awkwardness.

What happened to this so-called “family” that we were supposed to become? We’re still so separated that I continue to get the names of the five freshman (or maybe sophomore) boys confused.

This is not to say some good hasn’t come out of advisory. I actually made two relatively good friends out of this group of anonymous underclassmen.

Was this the goal of advisory? To make a new friend? If the answer is yes, I would say it was a job well done by the administration. But if the aim was to open up to a group of people, meaningfully discuss important issues or find a multi-grade alternative to homeroom, I would say it came up short.

It is the last issue, the loss of homeroom, that really gets to students. My class, the soon-to-be seniors of 2014, could probably go down as one of the least spirited and least bonded classes in WHS history. Homeroom served as a much needed time for us to connect with the members of our grade that we didn’t usually see during the day.

The bright side is that the seniors have their own advisory. After all, it’s critical that the seniors be united as a grade. At least we can look forward to returning to a homeroom-esque experience next year so we can bond when we need it most. Oh wait…

As an incoming senior, what irks me the most is that the administration is changing the one part of advisory that seemed to really work. Why should we be forced to spend time in a multi-grade advisory when the preceding seniors didn’t have to?

Instead of allowing the seniors to bond as a grade, the privilege of a one-grade advisory is being given to the incoming freshmen. It seems to me like this will be accomplishing the opposite of advisory’s purpose by keeping freshmen even more separated from the rest of the upperclassmen who are already familiar with high school and each other.

Despite some obvious failures, administrators have made it clear that advisory is here to stay. However, this does not mean we can’t get creative and come up with some ways to make it less unbearable (my advisory actually did try to discuss some strategies for this, but everyone just sat there in silence staring at the ceiling.)

First, I propose we do something to switch up the people in our advisories. If we haven’t bonded with anyone in our respective groups already, it is doubtful that we are ever going to. Even if we have, we will manage to stay in touch without one 30-minute block every week.

Even better, why don’t we just combine advisories? The more the merrier! In a larger group you are more likely to meet people who you relate to, and there are more people to contribute to those awkward class discussions. Also, with this larger group, there would be more than one teacher. I’m sure this would be a relief to those who lead a rebellious and awkward group of kids in their advisory.

If this larger crowd seems like too much to handle all at once, I recommend breaking up into several smaller groups. This way, kids can get to know each other on a more personal level. How am I supposed to become friends with the kid who sits across the room if our only interaction is me listening to his views on cell phone addiction?

This brings me to my other revision for advisory: the curriculum. As much as this cell phone addiction may be relevant to high school students, having to sit in a circle and discuss it will do nothing but bore us into having to use our cell phones under the table, pushing us deeper into our technology addiction.

To get people off their phones and more involved, I propose more hands-on activities, like the community service day. I think most students will agree that this was the most bearable day of advisory, and some will even admit that it was fun.

I recognize we cannot make excursions like those of service day every week, but more activities that get the kids up and moving and fewer formal discussions will make the time feel less uncomfortable.

With all this talk about advisory, it did make me realize one thing: all the students of WHS now have a common enemy. Strike up a conversation with any student about advisory and you will immediately bond through mutual complaining.

Maybe this was the ultimate goal of advisory, to unite the school through common dislike. If so, I would like to applaud the administration on their ingenious use of reverse psychology. However, if it was not, which is more likely the case, the structure of advisory needs to go through some serious reconsideration.

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