By Alex Ghorbani '19
As the Athletics page on the school website will tell you, “The tradition of mens sana in corpore sano—a sound mind in a sound body—is central to St. Albans School. Every student is required to take part in the athletics program, which serves to develop strengths of both body and character.” Required sports help students interact with peers whom they might not see otherwise, participate more in school culture, and try their hand at a sport they might not have otherwise pursued. However, by junior year, most boys will have already done all of these things, and there are numerous reasons why juniors might want to take a sports cut.
As any senior or current junior can tell you, the Fifth Form at St. Albans can be very stressful and the option to take a sports cut could offer a much needed boost in one’s free time. Some students with many extracurricular activities often find it hard to make time for their schoolwork in between the musical, orchestra, Model UN, and their sports commitments. The time that people spend at sports could be used as a period for schoolwork in between the rest of their activities, especially during a particularly stressful period, such as springtime with the US History paper. Juniors are already given the privilege of lunch cuts. Not everyone uses them, but they are available if needed; a junior year sports cut would function in the same way.
By junior year, most students have already decided on which sports are for them and which aren’t. Some seasons have more offerings for sports than others, and so if there are no options to suit somebody, they should be free to not choose any of them. Two years is generally enough time for people to get a feel of all their options and they can make a reasonable judgement on what they want to do. There are also guys who have found one or two sports that they want to focus on and would like a free season to train on their own or simply have a break during their offseason.
Finally, I would also propose that there be a restriction on intramurals to only juniors and seniors as a way to provide that underclassmen can make an accurate assessment about what sports, if any, are right for them before they are given the privilege of taking a cut. This restriction would increase in sports participation and decrease the amount of people in intramurals, which would be beneficial to the athletics department.
By Ilina Gobburu '19
As a student who has always been accustomed to taking the hardest course load possible, either due to parental pressure or personal ambition, I don’t believe in restricting the number of AP classes a student can take because that should be a personal choice, not the choice of the school.
Currently at NCS, students are only allowed to take 2 APs, maybe three with special permission from administrators, deans, and advisors, which is a tedious process. If a student feels that she is competent enough to take more than 3 APs, she should be able to do so. This school emphasizes the fact that it empowers young women and that it breaks the boundaries other institutions often set for the education of girls, so why restrict the number of APs a student can take? Many teachers argue that it’s for the student's well being, because many of the classes listed as non-APs, like some of the English electives, are already considered to be at AP an preparatory level. If that is true, then the school should find a way to indicate on student’s report cards that those classes are honors or of an advanced level compared to normal classes so that colleges know that a student has really challenged themselves academically. At the end of the day, unless you’re just extremely passionate about a school, the only reason you’re taking more than one AP class is because you want your transcript to look good. Even though some colleges know that NCS classes are academically challenging, it’s still difficult to compete with some public school students who take upwards of 5 APs simply because they don’t have any restrictions from their administrators. Technically, an AP class at a public school should be the same as an AP class at NCS because the material being taught follows the AP curriculum, however, NCS makes these classes even harder, and that results in an unfair comparison because it makes the public school students seem like they are challenging themselves more by taking more APs, when that’s not actually the case. So, if it were up to me, I’d say ditch the restrictions and let students decide how much they want to challenge themselves. Even if a student struggles, at least they learn what their limit is and understand that this is just a learning process, and that’s what life is really all about: making mistakes, learning from them, and coming back stronger each time.
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By Max Niles '18
One of the main admissions selling points for the close schools is the Coordinate Program. With the Coordinate Program, the schools can advertise that they have “single-sex education on a coed campus.” In the Lower School, it means that chorale, drama, and some arts are coed. In the Upper School, the program expands; Cross Country, Track, and Crew are all coed, in addition to the Lower School options. By junior year, the english department becomes coed, as all junior and senior year English electives and American Literary Traditions must have both boys and girls. AmLit is the issue in focus.
Many complain about how they feel that the class is “forced” to be coed. People complain about how the curriculums are different between the two schools, how NCS prefers the Harkness method or how at STA discussions are guided by the teacher, and how at NCS essays have prompts and at STA you can chose anything. These are all totally valid concerns. I would agree that the classes are forced in some ways, and that there is a distinction between coed opportunities and coed requirements. But I think being forced out of your own comfort zone is a good thing before college. At some point, you’re going to have to learn how to deal with taking classes with the other sex and dealing with a method of teaching that you aren’t used to. The schools do offer opportunities to students, but people aren’t always going to take them. Sure, some of us are in Chorale, Cross Country, Crew, the plays, and have done every coed elective possible, but for a lot of the student body, they haven’t done that, and they’ve had almost no interaction with the school across the Close in a classroom setting. You need to be able to be in a classroom setting with members of the other sex before you go to college, and by forcing AmLit to be coed, you ensure that every student on the Close gets that opportunity before they graduate. There are growing pains that come with this; you may not be used to the teaching style and you may feel that it’s “us” against “them.” But, at least in my experience, you get used to the class, and you attain a different and useful experience in taking coed AmLit before you graduate.