Dear Academy Families,
With a “Head of School Holiday” (HOSH) unfortunately transformed into a pedestrian snow day last week – and, yes, it really was meant to be a day off for no good reason other than to give relief to the February doldrums when it was originally planned weeks in advance – and now with a three-day weekend ahead of us, I am starting to believe that four-day school weeks are the trend of the future. In thinking of short weeks, I recently learned that France, which traditionally has much longer school days, tempers that by letting everyone off one day each week (usually a Wednesday), but is now considering inserting a half day on Wednesday, while shortening the other four days by 45 minutes each.
At the Academy, our daily/weekly schedule and annual calendar are bound by our joint high school/university curricula to adhere to a schedule and calendar tightly tied to Boston University’s. This creates several anomalies. For example, University courses usually start up after winter break by as many as 10 days later than Academy classes begin. This is balanced in spring break, when Academy students taking BU classes get just one week, while younger students and Academy faculty enjoy two. Or with our Commencement the day after the University’s Graduation, our seniors are done in the third week of May, while all of our other students continue into early June. And perhaps most vexing for seniors, we schedule All School Meeting (ASM) for 8 a.m. on Thursday in order to minimize conflicts with University electives they might want to take.
All of which confirms that the world is not a perfect place, and that trade-offs are required to optimize the merging of our high school with a major research university. The same pattern that applies to calendars and daily schedules also rings true for budget planning, building and facilities questions, and employment practices. In my almost 30 years in independent school education, I can safely say that there is no hybrid program quite like ours! And that, I believe, is a real strength from which our students benefit…even if we can’t cancel University classes when I might next call a HOSH!
James S. Berkman
Head of School