Mrs. Heywood leads a nature walk during the Common Hour. (Gurby V./Staff)
On April 6, the Student Council with the help of Mr. Dow initiated the first special schedule with a common hour for students to catch up on schoolwork, meet with teachers, or just have a break from the busy day.
For years, students have petitioned the Student Council to help with increased mental health concerns and stress levels. Among the academic rigor, college admissions pressures, sports, extracurricular activities, home and social life, COVID, and other external factors, students needed some relief during the school day. The Student Council responded to requests from the student body to initiate a common hour, which shortens class periods, extends lunch, and gives students and teachers an hour to themselves to catch up on work or have a mental health break.
Because this initiative aims to better the mental health of the Academy Upper School community, common hour is a no-phone period. Instead, students can participate in nature walks, community yoga, or other activities. This allows students and teachers to reset, recharge, and prioritize their wellness and well-being.
This plan, however, did not come to fruition overnight. It has taken years to formulate an adequate response to the students’ pleas. The Student Council was required to propose the plan in front of the upper school faculty and agreed to compromises to make this plan work.
After the first trial run of this initiative, Student Council sent a Google form collecting responses from students and faculty about common hour, and 95% of the Upper School community voted that they would like to repeat this experience.
The willingness of the Student Council to listen to students’ concerns and to devise and advocate for a creative solution makes our school community stronger.
Thank you, Student Council, for all your hard work and dedication to improving the health and well-being of Academy’s students and teachers.