Calendar Revisions Pass with 120-68 Faculty Vote

Beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, Andover will run on a calendar of three terms of equal length, with Thanksgiving Break marking the end of Fall Term.

Faculty voted 120-68 in favor of equalizing term lengths between November 14 and November 16, according to John Rogers, Dean of Studies.

The new schedule will consist of 11-week-long trimesters, according to Rogers. Each term includes an end-of-term Extended Period Week.

Fall Term is projected to end on Friday, November 22 in 2013, after which Thanksgiving Break begins, according to a preliminary outline of the 2013-2014 academic calendar that Rogers and Rebecca Sykes, Associate Head of School, e-mailed to students and parents. After a two-week long Thanksgiving Break, Winter Term classes will begin on Friday, December 6, and continue until Winter Break starts on Thursday, December 19. Winter Term classes will then resume on Tuesday, January 7.

Thanksgiving Break will increase from a length of 10 days under the current schedule to 13 days, while Winter Break will be shortened from 26 days this year to 18 days next year. However, this year’s Winter Break is a week longer than usual, according to Rogers. Because the date of Thanksgiving would have made Fall Term longer this year, the administration decided to lengthen winter vacation and add another week of school in June to make term lengths more even.

On average, Thanksgiving Break under the new calendar will be three days longer than it was under the previous calendar, and Winter Break will be three days shorter, according to Rogers.

If the current calendar structure were to continue next year, Thanksgiving Break would also begin on November 22, but would end 10 days later, on December 2. Fall Extended Period Week would end on Friday, December 13, marking the start of Winter Break. Winter Term would then begin on January 7.

“The peer schools that are on trimester systems all end Fall Term before Thanksgiving. Exeter was the last to hold out, but recently they changed their schedule as well,” said Rogers.

Rogers said that the proposed 2013-2014 academic calendar is still a draft in progress, and that the administration still needs to determine the exact dates of long weekends. The final calendar will be released by the end of January 2013.

Student Council held a forum on Wednesday to collect students’ opinions and concerns about the calendar change.

“We hoped to get more ideas from the student body, because we [as Student Council] can only come up with so much on our own,” said Rolando Bonachea ’13, Vice President of Student Council.

About 20 students joined members of Student Council in a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the adjusted calendar, as well as possible solutions to some of the concerns raised.

Student Council will present the points discussed during Wednesday’s forum in an upcoming meeting with Head of School John Palfrey, as well as at the Deans’ Table with the Cluster Deans.

Rogers said the administration is trying to address all the concerns raised by students as they finalize the schedule.

Some of the advantages listed in Student Council’s notes from the forum included receiving official Fall Term grades in time for early applications to colleges, more time to work on financial aid applications for college and more time for college counseling.

He added that the new calendar will allow students to present colleges with one or two more full terms of grades and eliminate the current pressure put on teachers to project grades before they are ready.

Disadvantages outlined in Student Council’s notes included the calendar change’s effects on international students’ travel plans, sports team tryouts coinciding with Extended Period Week and athletic championships taking place during the weekend before finals.

Student Council also shared a proposal for a short “December Term,” which would take place in the two weeks between Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break. During the proposed December Term, students would not attend regular classes. Instead, they would be given the option to further pursue a personal interest, such as going on language trips or participating in foreign and local community service.

Brooks School currently has a very similar term in December, a three-week-long period during which students focus on one topic of study.

Student Council raised the concern that students would be assigned school work over Winter Break.

Rogers said that although the faculty has yet to discuss how to regulate the amount of work assigned over Winter Break, a specific set of rules will eventually be established.

Student Council also noted that in the future, early college application deadlines may coincide with Fall “Penultimate Week”—two weeks before Extended Period Week and the last week of the term during which teachers can schedule tests and assign papers—creating additional stress for Seniors.

In the 2013-2014 academic year, early applications would be due the Friday before Penultimate Week, according to Rogers. However, early application deadlines and Penultimate Week will coincide in some years.

An idea proposed by Rogers would turn the Wednesday of Penultimate Week into an all-day conference period, giving students more time to prepare for multiple major assignments.

During the forum, Student Council also proposed incorporating essay questions similar to college essay prompts into the English 300 curriculum for Uppers.