Evaluating H-term: pro or con?

Graphic+by+Henry+Chen+%2721

Graphic by Henry Chen ’21

A positive reflection on H-term

By: Sarah Wisneski ’21

I genuinely enjoyed taking the course “Recipes for Life” with Assistant Dean of Students and Day Student Dean Donna Eilberg throughout the six weeks of H-Term. Not only was she passionate about helping us to become better cooks, but she also took student input to heart and was supportive regardless of the type of food we chose to prepare. 

Two of our cooking classes were led by students, and I had a fun time learning how to make quiche and crepes from my peers. I learned how to make a variety of entrees and desserts, and learned about different cultures as well. 

One of my favorite aspects of the course was our weekly Monday Zoom meeting, during which we talked about the food that we made the previous week. As a result of my participation in “Recipes for Life,” I gained confidence in the kitchen and my love for cooking and baking grew. I hope to be able to find time when I’m in college next year to get in the kitchen and improve upon what I’ve learned!

Aside from cooking, I think H-Term was a unique and successful approach to remote learning. It is great that students had the opportunity to explore their interests through working, internships, or independent studies. 

With normal classes at a pause, H-term allowed me to have flexibility with my schedule. I was able to plan out my week according to what I wanted to accomplish each day, and was able to choose when to do my assigned review work. I was also able to make time for other things I love, such as spending time with family, painting and playing the piano. Although I definitely would have preferred to be in the classroom on campus, I enjoyed and appreciated the new learning experience. 

Cons of H-term

By: Cassidy Beeding ’21

Being at Hill last fall, while sometimes hard, was a gift that I know not many students around the world can say that they were given. However, changes to students’ learning forced teachers to adjust their curriculum to accommodate the pandemic’s safety measures. The most glaring error was Hill’s yearly academic schedule. Despite the obvious challenges that the new schedule presented, students and teachers alike were crammed for time, and, instead of focusing on learning, oftentimes focused on plowing through content. 

H-Term, in theory, was a great idea. It was innovative, interesting, and a great way to keep students engaged in the community while away from school. But, where I believe administrators failed and what they failed to consider when planning, was the lasting effects this “break” would have on students’ performance in the classroom. While away from school for three months, there were only 18 days of virtual classes. Other than that, the only way in which students were required to complete school work was in non-graded discussion posts or in College Board review assignments. Put plainly, this was not enough and this lack of instruction will have negative effects on students who have chosen to take a wide variety of APs or even just one. 

I know myself and many of my peers feel as though we have lost so much information from the fall. Moreover, we feel we will struggle in the spring even more so than before. Students were forced to absorb large amounts of content-heavy information in a short period of time, and then, after a short break, unload all of it again with precision. After H-Term, this unloading is going to be expected again because our schedule doesn’t give teachers time for review. While I commend this reason and believe H-Term was a genius way to ensure the safety of our community this winter, I wonder at what cost? The Hill School is a school; and, right now, I feel as though my academics — the reason why I am here — have taken a backseat.

Hill, please understand that we acknowledge that we are living in unprecedented times and nothing is for sure. As we saw this fall, college applications don’t stop and pressure doesn’t let up for Hill students to be and do their best. I just wonder how we’re supposed to do this when it appears as though we are set up to fail?

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