Student Congress Addresses Pace PA, Requirements: Student Council Advises on Life Issues, ASMs

School Congress met earlier this week to address three major topics under review: PACE, athletics and academics. Held once each term, Student Congress allows Student Council to present their ideas and discuss issues that affect the Phillips Academy student body. The first topic discussed was Life Issues, which is a part of PACE., or Personal And Community Education. Associate Dean of Students Carlos Hoyt has led the PACE committee to evaluate Life Issues, FCD Week and other aspects of student life. Currently, Life Issues is a requirement for all new and returning Lowers. Its purpose is to equip students with the tools necessary to face many of the tough situations they will encounter during their lives. After citing the merits of the Life Issues course, the Student Council agreed with many changes to the program suggested by the PACE committee. Student Council members said that decreasing the number of Life Issues teachers from its current 28 to a more highly trained 12 would allow students to feel confident that they are talking with a knowledgeable authority. This, combined with a proposal to include Seniors as co-facilitators, would allow students to feel more comfortable and open up more. Student Council also said that the proposal would solve much of the disparity in the quality of the Life Issues classes. Some classes, they pointed out, are more conducive to discussion and learning than others. A possible source of Senior co-facilitators is the pool of proctors and former prefects, who in preparation for their student leadership roles would have already undergone much of the training for a Life Issues class. They would be seen as forms of enrichment as opposed to extra teachers. Another part of the PACE proposal is ACMs, or All-Class Meetings. In these, members of each grade would have an allotted time to meet with their class, similar to All-School Meetings but on a smaller scale. These would be used by Juniors and Lowers to address other aspects of PACE. Currently, PA has multiple programs addressing subjects that many teenagers are faced with. These programs include Freedom from Chemical Dependency Week and the Date Rape seminar. The Student Council agreed with PACE’s proposal that these types of programs be consolidated into one “Wellness Week.” The Student Council outlined a decrease in homework and a ban on major assignments due during Wellness Week in response to a question by Associate Dean of Students Carlos Hoyt about forms of time compensation. The second topic discussed was athletics. The Student Council deemed exercise and athletics important, despite the possibly taxing time commitment, and observed that there are now options for sports not during the usual 3 – 5 p.m. slot, including Praxis and a section of FIT. The Council also pointed to “Sliding” as a useful option, as it allows students flexibility in their sports requirement, and many sudents exercise on their own. Eddie Kang ’07 suggested CPR/emergency response training as an addition to the curriculum of PE, which is a one-term requirement for Lowers. The final topic of discourse was academics. The faculty has been reviewing the arts requirement, which, for four-year students, is currently a yearlong course in music or art, two terms in music or art depending on what the student took the previous year, and one term of theater. The Student Council expressed interest in a proposal to decrease the requirement to four terms of art, leaving the division among the three main forms of art music, and theater to the discretion of the student. The reduced requirement would allow more time for the student to explore other interests, within or beyond the arts. The only downside noted was the ability of entering Juniors to handle the more rigorous term-contained art courses versus the lighter yearlong courses. The Student Congress also addressed a bid to change the Fall Term of English 100 to pass/fail. Student Council favored the motion, calling the change a way to acquaint entering students with the Andover English program. They suggested that teachers continue to grade papers normally, allowing for students to improve their writing and build their confidence. Student Council President Danny Silk ’07 mentioned that the Academic Advisory Committee has been talking about midterm course evaluations, in which students, around midterm week, would fill out short evaluations of their courses and cite possible adjustments to the formats of each class. The PACE, athletic, and academic proposals discussed at the Student Congress meeting will be voted on by the faculty at the end of April.