Latin's Crazy, New, and Amazing Changes

Hedy Gutfreund Staff Writer After the construction of the new Middle School, big changes have been promised to the students at Latin. These changes are now planned to go into effect January 2012, which is second semester of next year. According to Latin website, the changes that will be coming to the Latin buildings are a part of the Long Range Plan for the school that began in 2007. The goals for the plan are “to sustain the school’s outstanding educational program” and “to continuously work to enhance the program to ensure its relevance for the twenty-first century.” The changes are all aimed at changing the educational experience more than the buildings themselves. The physical changes planned include moving the fifth graders into the Middle School, making more room in the Middle School for fifth and sixth graders, enhanced science labs for the high school, adding a larger arts wing, and more common spaces in the high school. These changes will affect everyone in the school from JK to 12th grade. The Lower School will also have more space, which will add more importance to the science, physical education, and technology aspects of elementary school. The Middle School organization will change to have fifth graders choosing their language, extracurricular activities specified to fifth and sixth graders or seventh and eighth graders, more writing instruction time, and an added focus on science for fifth graders. According to Ms. O’Dea, Director of Communications, “[The plans for change have] been going on for years. The school has been talking about moving the fifth grade into the middle school for many, many years. But, I would say most recently within the last two years was when they decided that they would move the fifth grade over and that the fourth floor would become a science center.” Junior Lizzy Brilliant is concerned, like 58% of the people recently surveyed by The Forum, that fifth graders in the Middle School might not be the best idea, reflecting, “I don’t think that I would have wanted to be in the Middle School. I think that the current fifth grade is a good transition to middle school by finally having rotating classes. Five on five is also a good preparation, but moving fifth grade into the middle school seems like it could be too big a jump from fourth grade in the Dearborn building.” Freshman Yinga Xia disagrees, saying, “I know that there is not a lot of space in the Lower School, and I think that this change is necessary.” In response to other changes, 65% of people in the same survey said that they wished they had begun studying the language they study now in fifth grade since this would have improved their fluency. Seventh grader Remy Dhingra wishes she could have started studying Chinese in fifth grade, stating: “It would give me more of a head start in a language I was serious about.” Some respondents of the survey, though, say that they would have ended up changing languages even if they had started studying a language in fifth grade. Freshman Nathan Goldberg, who plans to switch to Spanish next year from Latin says that he is, “switching from lack of interest [in his current language] next year.” Going on to talk about more changes, the science labs will be more laptop-friendly, encourage more group work, and have added technology to improve the science experience. The labs will have access to the green roof of the Middle School, and there will be labs focused for each year of study (biology, chemistry, physics). Additionally, there will be labs dedicated to independent research, and there will be more demonstration space for the class. Freshman Becca Andruzzi is thrilled with the planned changes, saying, “I think the extra space will definitely help. Right now, my class is extremely full with twenty kids, and sometimes there are not enough desks. This makes the class seem stressful and cramped.” 90% of the respondents to the survey say they are excited about the changes planned. Though most seem excited about the changes for the science curriculum, there are still complaints. An anonymous respondent to the survey says, “I am looking forward to [the science labs], but my concern is being able to get to them and get back to the high school in the time allotted in between blocks.” Additionally, sophomore Lynden Lee believes that “[the new labs are] cool, but I think there are better things that can be improved besides the labs that, as far as I know, are already serving their purpose.” The science department has clearly considered these issues, but it seems that the benefits far outweigh the cost. Mr. Coberly put together a presentation (which you can watch at ) that explains the necessity of the new science facilities. Finally, everyone has been wondering if there will be an added bridge to the science labs. To better answer this question, Ms. O’Dea informed me, “Everyone wants it, and we’d love it. But it would cost two million dollars. In the priorities of what we would do for the school, it’s kind of low on the list.” Even without this change, though, the respondents of this survey rated the overall changes as an average of 6.3 out of 10. Make sure you check out all the changes planned for Latin and form opinions of your own by going to: !]]>