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Upper School Advisory Changes to Mixed Grades

Upper School Advisory Changes to Mixed Grades
Anica Diaz, '24

As we return to campus for the start of another great year, we are met with many changes. Adjusting to new classes, new schedules, and new routines are all steps we take at the beginning of the fall semester. However, many returning Wooster students were surprised to hear about the adjustments being made to advisory. 
For veteran Wooster community members, many will recall that advisory groups used to be filled by students of the same grade level. Seniors with seniors, sophomores with sophomores, and so on. The purpose was to act as a smaller support group amongst grade levels with one leading faculty member. This year, advisory groups have shifted to consist of students from varied grade levels while meeting less frequently. For my first WiNK article of the year, I’ve decided to interview both students and faculty members about this controversial alteration. 

Firstly, I’ve decided to interview Ms. Lucic, the Dean of Students, to gather her perspective.

Can you share what prompted the decision to change how advisory operates?

I don’t fully know where the new advisory idea originated, but I do know the reasons behind it that have been discussed. We are a small school, and there are a lot of classes that are mixed in grade levels. In fact, the majority of the classes are this way. Already, there are a lot of friendships that aren’t just within each grade.  

Maybe the most important thing is that a lot of seniors want the ability to lead. There are a lot of leadership opportunities, but I think that this is just another one. You have your freshman who is new to the upper school, or even new to the school itself, and now they have a senior who they can look up to. Since all the seniors have been here longer than a year, they can act as guiding mentors. 

When I was your age, the thought of someone being three years younger than me was like “Woah! That’s such a big gap.” Realistically, that isn’t true. One of my best friends is ten years younger than me. In a way, these changes are setting students up for the relationships and friendships that they will encounter beyond school.

How do you expect students will react to these alterations?

Change in general is difficult. I think the human condition is to hear about change and immediately think of the negative. To be honest, I do that all of the time. This is a silly example, but the first day back, one of my classes was in a different room. I thought to myself That’s ridiculous. I need my space and I want it to be my space. My automatic reaction was to see the negative, but if I force myself to think of the positive things, there are actually many. Initially, I think students may hear of these changes to advisory and think “Oh, well that’s not how it’s done.” However, there is a lot of potential and positives we can see going forward. 

How do you envision the Halloween advisory pumpkin carving contest will be impacted by these changes? 

I think that the pumpkin carving contest will be even more competitive. I really do. Because you have competitions between different grade levels, each kid is going to want to compete with their classmates. I think it will be more competitive and therefore more fun. 

A big thank you to Ms. Lucic for answering all of my questions about these changes! Now with a bit of background, I decided to interview other members of the Wooster community to hear their opinions. 

How do you feel about the new changes made to advisory?

“I think the old way and the new way of advisory both have pluses and minuses. I enjoy getting to know 9th and 10th graders because I don’t currently teach them, so it’s nice to have that diversity in our group. We had fun playing french cricket on our first day of advisory.” - Dr. Sullivan, Quantitative Guru 

“I’m not the biggest fan because I enjoyed having the same teacher for a couple of years in a row. Since I’m getting ready to apply to colleges right now, it feels like a lot of change all at once.” - Andrew Schwarz, Senior 

“I like the new changes because I’ve gotten to meet with many people from other grades. I really enjoy helping the new kids out as a senior.” - Morgan Boxer, Senior 

“I think it’s a little odd to have so many grades included in one group. To me, it feels like the one constant at Wooster, the advisory groups, have changed. I do like the advisory I am a part of now, though.” - Elliot Rosen, Junior 

“Both formats make sense to me, I can see the benefits of both. I do miss my now-sophomores who I had last year. I am also enjoying getting to know my new advisees, though. Either way, when the Wooster Olympics get rescheduled, the Thaler advisory will take home the win.” - Mrs. Thaler, WiNK Boss

“I love meeting new people. I think the grades mixing is very unique and fun.” - Lele Fleming, Sophomore

“I think the new advisory set-up is neat because it allows younger students to intermingle with the upperclassmen they might not know otherwise. I hope it’ll allow the underclassmen to have good role models.” - Joey Cerulli, Senior

“I’m going to miss my old advisory teacher, but I’m excited to have the chance to work with multiple grade levels. I think it will make the community stronger.” - Gavin Mellas, Senior

“I prefer the Wednesday schedule and advisory set-up from last year better.” - Abraham Leonard, Sophomore

“I’m sad to have lost my advisees because it was their senior year and we had had four years together, but I really like the opportunity for mentorship between the older and younger kids. I think it’s working really well so far.” - Mrs. Hermann, Enchantress of the Tower

“I miss the opportunity to discuss the college process with my class and senior specific problems.” - Maria Goldstein, Senior 

“It’s definitely different. A part of me misses the comfort of my old advisory, but I do like my new group and the chance to become closer with others not in my grade.” - Alé Greco, Sophomore

“I like my new advisory group, but I do think it’s a little odd that we only meet once a month. Also, it felt like advisory last year was able to bring together the people in my grade.” - Kendall Zakowich, Sophomore

“I have mixed feelings about advisory right now. Although I enjoy spending time with kids from other grades, I miss getting to socialize with people in my own grade who I don’t usually get to see.” - Anya Ionis, Junior 

“My opinion is that we should have received more of a warning about the changing advisories before school started.” - Arthur Jaccard, Sophomore

“I have a unique perspective because I first became an advisor in the middle of the year for a sophomore advisory in the middle of the pandemic. We started remotely and a lot of people wouldn’t even log in, but I had no recourse. When that group graduated last year, I was excited to get a whole new advisory of freshmen. Obviously, that was not the case. That said, we as the Wooster community are nothing short of nimble, so we adjusted to this change quickly. The jury is still out on how these adjustments will turn out, but I imagine they will be great. I also love having two seniors in my advisory group now who have been here for so long and can help me out.” - Mr. Johnston, He’s A Music Man 

It seems that many in the Wooster community have mixed feelings about these advisory adjustments. As Dr. Sullivan put it, both the old and the new way have pluses and minuses. However, while only time will tell how the pumpkin carving contest turns out, I imagine that we all have a lot to look forward to together. 

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