Committee Releases Pace Of Life Report to School

Phillips Academy’s Pace of Life Committee last week issued 19 recommendations that would more strictly define club meeting times, the role of study hours, Friday and Saturday night activities, housing, and usage of the Internet on campus. The product of two years of discussion, the proposals may be implemented as soon as mid-winter term. Posted on the Academy’s website, the report proposes a more stringent daily structure for Juniors and Lowers, as “too many [Juniors] are developmentally unable to handle the independence we have traditionally given our students.” Such a recommendation would emphasize the use of study hours strictly for studying and outlawing club meetings, rehearsals, and sports after 8 p.m. The report suggests that Juniors should not be allowed in the library during study hours unless they need to do research for a class. It also states that the Strategic Planning Committee may consider restructuring the housing system so that Lowers do not live in dorms with upperclassmen. Dr. Max Alovisetti, chair of the Pace of Life Committee, said that the group formulated its recommendations so that “students develop good study habits early on and live a healthier life while at PA.” He also hopes that the report will “begin discussion within the community about what we truly value.” Head of School Barbara Landis Chase said that a primary concern affecting the Committee’s recommendations is that “students do not get enough sleep to ensure their health and their best performance.” The Committee also suggests the abolition of theater tech weeks, the establishment of Internet restrictions, and the creation of mandatory study halls for students in academic distress. Another proposal states that all sports teams should return to campus by 8 p.m. on school nights. Although the rule would affect only 8 games a year, it would prohibit some teams from playing games against more distant rivals and could keep teams from attending lengthy tournaments such as Interschols. Committee member Karen Kennedy, an instructor in athletics, reflected, “Our kids who train a lot of hours don’t want to lose things like Interschols.” She continued, “On the other hand, we are an academic institution, and I do what I am asked to do. The rules should apply to everybody.” According to Dr. Alovisetti, every committee member received a copy of the report and had an opportunity to voice support or objections to anything and everything. However, Ms. Kennedy said that she did not know about the 8 p.m. athletic return policy and was surprised that the clause was included in the report, as she thought that she had read the final draft. The report also recommends that teachers give more work in class, as opposed to homework, after the Committee found that Andover assigns an average of 40 minutes more homework per night than its peer schools do. Mrs. Chase said, “This has been a long tradition, perhaps stemming from a sense of wanting to instill independent work.” To decrease the amount of homework, the Committee advises lengthening the school year, even though the faculty voted against such a calendar change last year. However, according to Committee member Vincent Avery, the Dean of Studies, the Academy has the fewest class days of any school, and “cramming a comparable program into a much smaller box is not an easy task.” Dean of Students Marlys Edwards said, “We are not trying to take away privileges or change what PA is. We are just stopping to think about it.” Mrs. Chase established the Pace of Life Committee two years ago in response to a recommendation made by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the region’s accrediting association, that the Academy examine more closely its students’ well being.