Eliza Brown, contributing writer
On November 18th, an email was sent out that included information regarding the new advisory policy. The email stated that, “Effective Tuesday, November 23 Advisory will be CLOSED… All students will report to their Advisory class and will remain in Advisory for the 57 minute block”. In the past, one of the main purposes of advisory was to give the opportunity for students to receive extra help from teachers, or make up any work that they have missed due to absences or other circumstances. Because of the closure of advisories, students are not able to do this, and must set up a virtual meeting with teachers or go after school.
This newly instated rule has been difficult for me, and many other students feel the same way. In my opinion, virtually meeting during advisory is not the best option, at least for my individual learning style. It can be confusing to learn over a Google Meet, and, after a year of virtual learning, I’m not eager to do it again. It is much easier to learn when the teacher is in front of you and can see what you are doing wrong, and the instructor is there to help you to understand it. Additionally, advisory can be loud, which makes it hard to communicate virtually, or it can be very quiet and students might feel uncomfortable.
Meeting after school might not be an option for some students as well. Many students have to go to work, or help their families. If a student has to pick up their younger siblings from school, how can they be expected to stay after 2:20 for extra help? They might just choose not to get help at all, and their grades will suffer. This is putting students who don’t have the luxury of a stay at home parent or their own car at a disadvantage. Students have responsibilities outside of school, and they should not have to overlap. We have a 57 minute block twice a week where students have no specific responsibilities. They shouldn’t be forced to sit in advisory, struggling with homework, when they could be getting help. They shouldn’t have to worry about not being able to receive the academic support they need, possibly causing them to fail their classes, because they have other after school obligations.
Now I understand that this is not the case for everyone, including myself. However, on some days, going after school is simply not an option. Many days I don’t have time to meet with my teachers after school. But I do have advisory, and I have to sit there instead of getting the help that I might need.
The email sent out on November 18th did not include information about why this rule was implemented, which I think would have been helpful for people to have a better understanding of why it occurred. Teachers have said that this is due to students roaming the halls. Mandy Vasil confirms that the closure situation is to make sure that all students are accounted for. I understand that this can be a liability to the school, and it is important to know where students are, especially in case of an emergency. Administration should deal with this issue; however, I think that the current solution is not sufficient. It is not a long-term fix, and harms other students who have done nothing wrong.
Natalie Mack, a junior at Nantucket High School, has been negatively affected by this policy. She explained that “as a student who thrives academically from getting extra help from teachers and is involved in various extracurricular activities, the new advisory rule has been quite challenging for me… However, I do understand why they had to do this. I do feel that a better solution could’ve been put in place. Perhaps having available staff out in the hallway making sure students have passes and are not just wandering. Hopefully administration understands how hard this is on students who use advisory time productively and the students who ruined it for everyone, to not do that in the future.” Mack clearly acknowledges that there is an issue present, but she believes that there should be a different approach to handling the situation. I feel this is the mindset of many students, who just want to be able to receive the academic assistance they were easily able to receive prior to the rule being put in place.
Another student, junior Kalina Natcheva, also shared her thoughts on the situation saying that, “I personally don’t like the advisory lockdown, and I don’t particularly think it’s very fair. A lot of students use advisory to get help from teachers, and it is very inconvenient for students and teachers, since both have to stay extra hours after school. I understand that many people roam the hallway and there are issues regarding that, but those individuals should be personally penalized, rather than making the entire school suffer.” The student brings up an important point: why must everyone be punished for the actions of a few? This way of dealing with situations is ineffective at putting a concrete end to the problem. Instead, it wrongly hurts the students who have done nothing wrong. With the current solution put in place, students may continue to wander, but those who have continued to follow the rules are the only ones who really receive punishment.
There is definitely an issue that needs to be solved, however, I think the current solution should be revised to better support students academically so that they can better succeed in their classes. The current system in place has clear flaws and I hope that the administration will consider a change.
UPDATE from Principal Mandy Vasil: The administration listened and a better plan has been put in place. Teachers are able to call other teachers to request that students report their room for extra academic assistance, to complete an assessment, or to even attend a group meeting such as the NYCC. These adjustments were put in place within a couple of days of listening to the needs of the students, and frankly the teachers as well. Often, in order to get the attention of the few, you must work through the many, i.e. a walkout rally.
The point here is that administrators and teachers alike are responsible for the safety of all students. With the recent rise of Covid cases, it is even more important that we are vigilant in assuring that students are accounted for, lately specifically for the purpose of contact tracing.