Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

The Hill News

Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

The Hill News

Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

The Hill News

H-term dramatically shifts in the new year

Media: Fiona Shen ’25
At the beginning of the school year, students walk hurriedly to the classes in their new daily schedule. H-term, which takes place between fall and winter terms, is among one of the major changes to the academic calendar announced this year.

As the new 2023-24 school year begins, many things remain the same. Yet one major thing has changed: H-term. The major components of this change regard an interweaving of the H-term experience into the existing academic schedule and courses. 

Some of the reasons for the change can be attributed to the previous H-term experience.

H-term has been a major part of Hill’s calendar ever since 2019. It takes place between Thanksgiving and Christmas break, providing students with more hands-on, creative, and collaborative courses of their choice. A variety of more than 70 different classes were provided to students ranging from analyzing video games and Mathematics to focusing on True-crime series. Classes no longer took place in traditional classrooms but expanded to the far reaches of the entire campus and even downtown Philadelphia. 

According to the vision of the school, H-term supposedly provided students with an extended stress-free period in which they are able to take a break from regular school work and creatively explore new subjects. Some students’ feedback from last year, however, showed otherwise. 

“Students, especially the ones taking AP classes, felt that academics suffered,” Katy Hudak, Dean of Academics said.“ It was almost a whole summer’s worth of time that lapsed, and they felt like they had to spend a lot of time getting back into speed.” 

Despite this downside, Hudak underscored that students did value what was happening during H-Term, but even though its practices came “almost at the cost of academics.” Although feedback for H-term was generally positive, this crucial matter tipped the decision in favor of exploring alternative solutions to the original plan. 

This year’s H-term deals with no new change of schedule. Students go to their regular classes where their teachers teach a variety of content relating to their classes. There will only be assignments, but no major tests. The grades from  H-term this time, however, will be counted in the winter midterm. 

“This is going to be an experiential time, a time when students won’t feel the same amount of pressure,” Dean of STEM Academics Jared Courtney said. 

Still, many programs were considerably well-served by the old H-term schedule. The financial literacy and college essay writing programs matters students may not have time to approach and explore otherwise during the regular academic terms, were made available during H-term.  

The H-term Committee, consisting of several members of the Hill faculty, has gathered to discuss the future of H-term and came up with some accommodations for the issue. Many students who used to take advantage of the H-term schedule to fulfill their requirements will no longer enjoy this privilege after the change. 

The committee has provided some alternatives to either weave in the requirements to the normal academic class schedule or consider removing the course requirement. For example, the college essay writing course will be integrated into spring English classes; the committee may reconsider the Eudemonia policy; and financial literacy will also change as well. 

Students who want to pursue independent studies outside the campus, however, can no longer do so during H-Term. The two-week span will not provide enough time and those seeking internship experience can take advantage of summer breaks or participate in the two-year Quadrivium scholar program. 

Collectively, the H-term this year serves as a transition, and the committee will expect this year’s feedback from students and faculties in order to plan out further H-terms. 

“We are trying to work out alternatives so that it won’t have a negative impact. It’s allowing us to get creative and think about other ways to deliver the content,” explained Lauren Hoyt, co-director of the college counseling office and a member of the H-term committee.

In explaining the possible impacts of this transition period on the college essay workshop program, Hoyt said that she and her team “hope that the only impact would be that all 5th formers (not just the ones who selected the previous H-Term course) will receive the information and time to work on their essay.”

Students responded to the change of H-term with some hesitation mixed with mostly positive anticipation. Regarding experience and feedback from last year’s H-term, Students overall cherished the special experience of last year’s H-term schedule.

“I was able to form close relationships and meet new people through different classes,” Alyssa Diwale ’25 said.

Other students responded differently regarding the changes made. 

“I don’t know if I like this new H-term schedule,” Wynnetka Magpantay ’25 said. 

However, students await the new change with excitement and view it with great potential.  

“It is going to be an interesting new pace concentrating more on academics but in creative ways,” Diwale ’25 said.

The unexpected schedule of the H-term has undoubtedly given rise to questions and discussions. However, such change is the product of meetings and considerations of many Hill faculty to optimize the period of time for students and the faculties. Despite all these changes, the H-term remains to be the last chance for students to spend time together before the long winter break begins.

“We are eager to have H-term be something that all students have together on campus and enjoy the time spent with each other,” Courtney concluded.

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