The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

A Disengaged Ninth Grade

Many in the Class of 2027 think SG is a waste of time
Photo credit: Ben Graines
Two freshmen’s response when asked to give their opinions on Student Government.

“I really appreciate how thoughtful the counselors are about the health curriculum,” Upper School Head Cory Zeller said. “They take student feedback and use it to make changes to better serve students. This year is different from last year, and next year will be different from this year. They are always modifying what students need.” 

Over the past semester, Upper School counselors Winifred Kearns and Kirstin Williams have tested their new and improved curriculum from last year. All freshmen take a health class which meets four times a week with one of the counselors. In the past, health classes have been focused on social emotional learning (SEL) and physical well-being. SEL includes teaching students how to effectively apply the attitudes, knowledge, and skills necessary to understand and manage their and others’ emotions, set and achieve positive goals, show empathy for themselves and others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Last year there were important topics discussed, however, Kearns and Williams believed that a new approach should be tried. “When Mrs. Williams came to Parker, I viewed it as an opportunity to re-evaluate the curriculum. She brought many new ideas and we came into the school year with a new curriculum to try out.”

The new health curriculum includes bringing in speakers to talk about more difficult topics including substance abuse, sexual health, and consent. Both Kearns and Williams brought this idea to Zeller who believed it would create a better learning environment for students. “I haven’t had health this semester, but I know that from what I’ve heard, people have different opinions on it,” freshman Owen Zeller said. “A lot of people say that they think some parts of the class are helpful but it could still be improved upon, and some people think that although they don’t like it, the information is important.”

Over the years, students have expressed their dislike for health class with complaints ranging from “it’s boring” to “it’s outdated and it needs a revamp,” according to Kearns. “We really tried to listen to comments from last year, and a lot of the feedback guided us when we updated the curriculum,” she said. 

This year, Kearns and Williams have also focused on integrating the counselors into the freshmen faculty team as well as updating the curriculum itself. They wanted freshmen students to feel as though they had a counselor to come speak to, and that by assigning the freshmen counselors, they could create a safe space in the counseling wing. “So now as a freshman, you get your advisor but you also get a counselor,” Kearns said

Kearns and Williams both have an open-door policy. “I believe it is important for students to feel like they can come into the room if they ever needed to. My first year here at Parker I was meeting with a student from Senior Seminar and they said that they didn’t even know where the health classrooms were, which to me is just sad,” Kearns said. 

Moving forward, Williams and Kearns are continuing to modify the health curriculum according to what feedback the students give. “My first year here I really wanted to learn what the Parker culture was and then change it to better benefit the students,” Williams said. Additionally, they’re both looking to expand and have more contact with the entire Upper School. 

“We both really want to meet not only freshmen and seniors but sophomores and juniors as well. We think that it’s very important for sophomores and juniors to also have support, and we’re hoping that because every student gets assigned a counselor, they will have that counselor for the rest of high school, starting with the class of 2027,”  Williams said. 

“I’m curious about my health class next semester but I’m not quite sure what to expect. I think that some people can pick up a few things in class, but outside of class I think people don’t feel an inclination to effectively execute what’s being taught,” Owen Zeller said. “I think that it would be interesting to see what effect health class has on students, or if they learn about it freshman year and forget it by senior year.”

With upcoming schedule changes, the path forward for health class is uncertain, but Kearns has hope that the new schedule changes will benefit Upper Schoolers and give counselors more time with students. “I think that in general, health class may never look the same because of the schedule changes but I think some of the curricula have helped students. However, that being said, Mrs. Williams and I are going to continue to modify the curriculum as students and student environments change,” Kearns said.

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About the Contributor
Graysen Pendry, Copy Editor
Graysen Pendry is so excited to start her second year on "The Weekly" as a Copy Editor. In her previous year, she served as a photographer and staff writer. When Graysen is not found in a Weekly meeting, she can be found playing tennis or debating her point in Model U.N.