Sophie Ashley Lead News Editor
Starting in the fall, the Alternative program will no longer solely be one trip, but groups will meet throughout the year with an overnight trip taking place in March. Students will pick their Alternative experience at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.
A committee of administrators and teachers came together to look at the program overall after mixed feedback from students in recent years, as well as several other motives. Director of Student Life James Perry cited a desire for a more meaningful experience as the main reason behind the changes.
The extended Alternatives timeline will provide groups with the opportunity to fully explore a topic of interest as a group, with the overnight trip in March allowing the group to have a more immersive experience to complement the work they’ve done together throughout the year. “Our thought was if we can just add a little more time and energy to it and just add some more context to the trips themselves that it would just be more of a deeper, more meaningful experience,” Perry said.
Yearbook Teacher Rhiannon West joined the committee to ensure Alternatives meet their full potential, noting the amount of effort and resources that have been dedicated to Alternatives in the past, only for there not to be any follow up after the trips return in the fall. “You go on these amazing trips and then you come back and that’s it, there’s no connection anywhere,” she said.
Once Alternative experiences are selected and assigned at the start of the school year, the groups will meet regularly in the fall semester with a full-day activity in London or somewhere in the U.K. in January, and a culminating activity later in the spring, after the trips in March.
West hopes the changes will allow students to have a say in planning what the overall experience will look like, which should lead to greater involvement. In addition, Perry believes the extended timeline will increase bonding potential for each group. “Our hope is [that we can plant] those seeds early and [create] some relationships and those will actually build,” he said. “Not only will the experience be more meaningful because of the subject matter and the content, but also because of the relationship with other students.”