For the past several years, upper school students have attended Practicum every Thursday–-adult-led discussion groups, activities, and academic sessions that are intended to offer support in a variety of areas. But some intrepid upper school students wanted to re-envision an expanded format that would enable them to self-select activities that are even more relevant and speak to their ever-evolving needs.
"Last year, a group of students wrote a petition, which was signed by a large portion of the student body, and submitted it to Mr. Thiermann. Two seniors who are now alumni, Scott Van Ness and Maddie Dyke, dedicated their senior projects to strengthening community engagement. As part of their projects, they developed a plan for restructuring Practicum, which became the basis of the H-Block we have today,” student body co-president Noah T. ’18 said.
H-Block is an hour-long segment of the class schedule every Thursday where students get the opportunity to attend activities or classes that are focused on four categories: academics, athletics, community service, or personal enrichment. In selecting their own activities, they now get the choice and flexibility they were seeking.
"The main thing H-Block gives students is freedom, which is something that is important to high school students. H-Block allows students to apportion their time based on how things are going. If they have a big test coming up, they can sign up for study hall to make sure they're well-prepared; if they have a big game coming up, they can sign up for open gym; or if they need to de-stress, they can try jam making or board games,” Noah said.
Students sign up for classes on the popular app MindBody, which is used predominantly in the wellness industry. Classes change weekly to ensure that students don't grow tired of the same activities.
"I've done improv class and slices of psych. Today, I got to do DIY cooking. We're making ramen and experimenting by seeing how we can make it delicious and healthy. I like H Block– it’s just really fun," Amzie B. ’20 shared.
The development of H-Block was a process that involved lots of work, time, effort, and cooperation from students, administrators, and teachers.
"I think H-Block really represents good discussion, compromise, and a healthy step forward,” Noah said.
H-Block meets several of the goals that are laid our in our strategic plan: Balance & Well-Being, Civic Engagement, and Teaching & Learning.
Bird's Eye View is a story series highlighting our work towards the initiative and goals laid out in our Strategic Plan: Bridge to 2022.