Winter Term to Last One Week Longer than Last Year’s

Because of the dates certain holidays fall on this year, Winter Term will be one week longer and Commencement will take place a week later than last year, among other changes to the 2012-2013 Academic Calendar. This year, students will have the fourth Wednesday in September off for Yom Kippur. This is the first time in recent years that the Jewish holiday falls in the middle of the week. New Year’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year, so students will return from Winter Break on a Wednesday evening. Because the first week back from winter break is only two days long, an extra week has been added to the end of Winter Term. As a result, spring break will be pushed to the last two weeks of March, and both Extended Period Week and Commencement will take place a week later than usual. John Rogers, Dean of Studies, and the committee that plans the academic calendar will announce proposals for the 2013-2014 Academic Calendar in the next few weeks and open the discussion to input from students and faculty. Rogers said that one of the proposals the committee is considering would end Fall Term before Thanksgiving break and add school days to the Winter and Spring Terms, in order to create terms of more equal length. For example, Extended Period Week in the fall would occur the week before Thanksgiving vacation. Two weeks later, students would return to school and begin Winter Term, which would continue until the beginning of winter break in mid-December, and then classes for the term would continue in January. “[The] committee looked at this model a while back, and it was a close vote [for] the faculty,” said Rogers. “We’ll have to see what happens this time around. The calendar that we currently use varies quite a bit from year to year, but we do attempt to make the terms a little more equal when we can–but the fall is still much longer this year.” Rogers said that vacation dates would remain approximately the same. The length of Fall Term has fluctuated in recent years, as the beginning of the term depends on the date of Labor Day. This causes problems for varsity athletes who need to stay on campus to compete in tournaments during Extended Period Week or even after Winter Break has already begun. “There are things about having a longer Fall Term that are good. For example, people are adjusting to school and even [the returning students] are still adjusting to the new school year. But [the academic calendar] is really lopsided right now. So if you are planning a syllabus for a course, it is a very different course from what is in the fall to the winter to the spring, and it’s also very different from year to year,” said Rogers. “[Having equal length of terms] would be more uniform for the student experience as well as the teacher experience. Secondly, it would also make the variation from year to year much smaller. So [the community] would have a much more consistent calendar from year to year,” continued Rogers. According to Rogers, many of Andover’s peer schools already operate on a schedule of three terms that are equal in size. Reducing the length of Fall Term would help the College Counseling Office and Seniors applying during the fall in the early admission round of college admissions, according to Rogers. Many colleges require Fall Term grades for Early applications, but because Fall Term ends so late, Andover currently sends each student’s estimated term grades as reported early by their teachers. This is not the first time that more uniform terms have been proposed. In 2005, Barbara Chase, former Head of School, proposed that 10 days be added to the Academic Calendar. There were two proposed models, according to an article published in The Phillipian on October 1, 2005. One plan was to have a fourth term between Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break in which students would only take two classes. Each student would pick a “major” that would meet for two and a half hours a day and a “minor” that would meet for 45 minutes a day. In this proposal, each student would have finished a full term’s worth of work in their major class, but earn only a half credit, graded on a pass-fail scale. The second proposal resembled the current proposal of three equal-sized terms. Teachers voted against both proposals. “The concerns that were there last time were that it was really nice to have a [longer] Fall Term to get students acclimated, particularly for new students. But we have so much more support in place for kids now in terms of kids who are struggling can get help, so maybe having a super long Fall Term isn’t necessary,” said Rogers.