The Health and Wellness Committee: Improving the Lives of Latin Students

reduce-stress   Bianca Stelian  Staff Writer High school has always been synonymous with stress. Students, especially at Latin, are known to work themselves to the point of exhaustion, factoring in non-academic commitments like sports, theater, part-time jobs, etc. For years the school has voiced their concerns about such high stress levels, with little action being done to ease students’ nerves. This all seemed to change after winter break this year. Students may remember the ‘teacher shadow’ days in late 2014, where various teachers followed students from all three Latin sectors to experience their schedule. This was an idea from the Latin Health and Wellness committee, a coalition of administrators seeking ways to make students’ lives better. Said teacher-shadows took notes on what they saw throughout their shadow days and reported back to the committee. And with the turn of the year, tangible changes were put in place. The first of which, perhaps the more noticeable, was the implementation of ‘no homework’ weekends into the school schedule. The title is pretty self-explanatory; students will occasionally have one weekend over which their teachers are not allowed to assign homework. The one caveat is that AP classes are allowed to bypass this rule, because, as Mr. Friedman explained, “AP classes have a certain schedule so that students are able to learn all the necessary material that will be on their AP tests in May.” No-homework weekends would alter said schedule, so the school compromised. The first ‘no-homework’ weekend took place earlier in January, and many students found it a relief. Many juniors voiced their happiness that they would get a weekend off, with one who wished to remain anonymous stating, “It’s nice to not have homework because I already have a lot of work to do to prepare for the ACT. So really, it’s not completely a weekend off, but a big load off of my shoulders.” She highlighted a good point: the next ‘no-homework’ weekend is scheduled for when many juniors will sit for the ACT on February 7th. Without homework to distract or stress them out, students will hopefully feel more prepared and relaxed come next weekend. Though less evident, another change in Latin stress has come from the sheer amount of homework given out by teachers as of late. Students in various classes, such as HUSH, Honors Biology, AP Calculus AB, and Honors Comparative and Global Politics have all expressed that their teachers have eased up on the amount of work expected of them. “A lot of my teachers have outright told us that they’re making an effort to give us less work,” said one student. “And I have some others that, even though they haven’t said so, have definitely given less work recently.” Another student chimed in, saying, “I think they’re trying to make sure we learn what’s really important instead of just doing busy work, which homework can sometimes feel like. I’m really happy about it now.” Many students feel the same way: that they’re happy. Their free time has increased, their stress eased (if only a little), their class time more productive. The Health and Wellness committee is certainly achieving what it set out to do – improve the lives of students at Latin.  ]]>