This Year, We Need Summer School


In a year of hybrid learning, most teachers will not get through all of their normal curricula, and as a result, students are concerned that this academic year could set them back in their future courses. While some students and teachers remain skeptical of summer school, Latin must offer all students the opportunity to fully absorb the entirety of their course material—even if that means extending classes into the summer.

Chemistry teacher Jonathan Legendre said, “I did not teach all of the course content in any of my classes … we made some decisions about which content and skills to prioritize.” Specifically, in his sophomore chemistry class, Mr. Legendre detailed the kinds of curriculum changes he made. “For instance, in my sections of chemistry, we did not do calculations with specific heat capacity but, instead, focused on the concepts of heat and temperature.” In his AP chemistry class, though, Mr. Legendre said, “I will have covered all of the course learning objectives in time for the AP exam, but the students did not have the same lab experience.”

Echoing Mr. Legendre, junior Ella Reese-Clauson added, “Science classes are missing all their labs, so we’re missing some practical lab skills that we’d get in a normal year.”

Natalie Ruhana, a junior, emphasized the importance of Latin offering summer classes. “I think that they should have summer school,” Natalie said. “It would be a great experience for any student who wants to learn more about something they enjoyed during the school year.” Ella agreed with Natalie, but also made it clear that Latin should make said summer classes optional. She said, “I think they should continue to offer optional summer at Latin courses but could provide more options than normal.”

The Language Department is meeting Ella and Natalie’s calls for summer classes. Department head Xavier Espejo-Vadillo described the Spanish summer classes available to students this year. “This year we will be offering Spanish Novice High and Intermediate Low in-person and remote classes,” he said. “But the intention is not to supplement content but to help students who are within those initial levels possibly move in the learning continuum and offer enrichment to help reach benchmarks in two levels where we typically have a lot of students.”

Likewise, Mr. Legendre said, “Supplemental summer classes could be really enriching for a student who enjoyed chemistry,” but he added, “I don’t think the Class of 2023 is chemistry deficient in a way that will negatively impact them in the future.” This is to say that summer school should be seen as an opportunity for students to dive deeper into their current classes—not as a necessary preparation for future courses.

Some members of the Latin community worry about low student attendance rates if there were to be a wide range of summer courses. “I wonder if summer classes would be available in a way that is equitable for everyone in our population,” Mr. Legendre said. “I wonder if students need a summer break after doing a pretty great job of staying invested in their classes during a global pandemic.

He raises an important question: Should students use summer break to decompress and give themselves a mental recess after a year of chaos?

Nevertheless, students still seem open to enrolling in summer school. Natalie said, “If they were only a few weeks long, I would take one.” Mr. Espejo-Vadillo pointed out that individuals outside of the Latin community could take summer classes as well. “Summer classes are offered to all Latin students but are also open to students from other schools,” he said. “Since they are not for credit, it is an enrichment opportunity open to anyone who may want to practice Spanish.”

Learning remotely has been difficult for not only members of the Latin community, but also for students globally. However, it is up to Latin to support their students even in these most abnormal of circumstances, and this support includes giving students the opportunity to take summer classes if they wish to. After all, Latin must emphasize that, even in a normal year, students shouldn’t necessarily halt their academic involvement come June.