POL Committee Discusses Use of Weekends

The Phillips Academy Pace of Life Committee is currently exploring ways to reorganize the schedule by moving activities– such as athletics and club meetings– which currently occur during the week, to the weekend. Next month, the Committee plans to organize faculty meetings in small groups and hold similar student forums in which students and faculty can gather to discuss and voice their opinions on the possibility of moving activities to unconventional times of the week. Chair of the Pace of Life Committee Dr. Max Alovisetti explained his reasoning behind the proposal, “[Andover] is a seven-day school which means that we have a certain responsibility and opportunity to [utilize the schedule] outside of the five-day week, in terms of activities, programs, and events that students should be attending.” Next month’s Committee meetings will take place in the time that would be normally be allotted to large faculty meetings, in the hope that faculty from different departments will use this opportunity to discuss the campus Pace of Life. Dr. Alovisetti stated that the Committee will be looking into how students and faculty use the weekends and the afternoon to early evening time period during the academic week. He also explained that the faculty will “not be looking at weekends just in terms of Saturday classes but in a much broader sense.” Dean of Students Marlys Edwards also voiced concerns about the current Pace of Life on campus, noting, “If you look at our activities, we try to squeeze a lot into the weekdays… The committee is looking at the idea of distributing the activities we need to do over six days, instead of four and a half.” According to Ms. Edwards, the Committee’s primary goal is to end co-curricular activities earlier in the evenings so that there is greater time in the evenings between the end of rehearsals, clubs, and other programs and before students go to bed. Some of the options the Pace of Life Committee is considering include moving practices of all athletics, not just competitive ones, to the weekend. This would free up afternoons during the week, so that students could complete homework, attend clubs, or catch up on sleep. Dr. Alovisetti also stated that the Committee is considering moving certain music ensembles and community service projects to the weekend. Ms. Edwards stressed the importance of equity, remarking that the Pace of Life needs to be slowed down for everyone across the board. She also worried about the fairness of moving activities that only some students participate in, noting, “Athletes are busy on Saturday, but not everyone is an athlete…The most equitable way to [rearrange the schedule] would be to have classes on Saturday, because every student has classes, and almost [all faculty] teach… I am not advocating Saturday classes, but I’m saying that this just seems to be the fairest.” Ms. Edwards also suggested increasing the number of periods that meet on a Saturday with classes, and instead of automatically leaving a few periods on Wednesday free, making “better choices as to the timing of the free periods so that people have a ‘real’ Pace of Life solution.” Although the Pace of Life Committee has not formally brought up the subject of moving sports practices to the weekend to the Athletic Council, Director of Athletics Martha Fenton said that the idea has been brought up casually in Athletic Council meetings, although no conclusions were drawn. Mrs. Fenton stated, “I think the free afternoon is a good idea, but I just think it will get filled with some other activity.” Although Mrs. Fenton admitted that moving athletic practices to weekends would “free up the [athletic] facilities during the week,” she worried about the effect the move would have on the athletic trainers. “If all the interscholastic sports had games or meets away, there wouldn’t be any trainers on campus for non-interscholastic sports during the weekend, and if there were practices all day Saturday, it would really lengthen their day,” she said. Director of Community Service Mike Koehler was also concerned about moving activities from when they are currently scheduled to the weekend, because many of the service projects involve after-school projects and the move would simply not be plausible. He added, “Many agencies are closed on the weekends so the opportunities to get involved in the community are really limited.” Citing Saturday classes as “the greatest concern people have about the weekends,” Dr. Alovisetti stated that Head of School Barbara Chase will make the final decision regarding Saturday classes, although, “[options are] still wide open. We may have to keep the same number; we may have more; we may have none at all.” He emphasized the need to “[provide] educational activities for faculty and students… We don’t want to cast students adrift during the weekends.”