By Gabi Liebeler '20
In my freshman year, one ensembles period per cycle was dedicated to seminar. For 9th graders, this “seminar” block is actually health class. In a time where I would have much rather been spending money on overpriced bagels at Open City—a habit I thankfully grew out of—I was instead taught the importance of ideas like healthy versus unhealthy relationships, reproductive health, and consent. Seminar typically takes the form of lecture, discussion, and interactive role-playing activities. At times, seminar was awkward, but in retrospect, it provided me with a solid understanding of what relationships between individuals should and shouldn’t look like.
In most, if not all, aspects, seminar is completely useful and effective. I’ve learned valuable lessons concerning “red flags” that can point to an emotionally or physically abusive relationship; I’ve been told how to interpret and ask for consent to make sure it’s present in a sexual encounter; I know how and when to spot reclusive behaviors in peers so that I not only know how to help myself, but also how to help others. One area in which I think the NCS health curriculum could improve, however, is in the biological aspect of sex-ed. I learned female and male anatomy in biology, and I learned about STD’s and birth control in elementary and middle school. In seminar, though, I mainly took away lessons about productive social interactions. We may have brushed over the biological subjects, but the fact that I can’t remember whether we did or did not should signify that they could be reinforced, given that they are just as important.
What I’m most thankful for is that NCS began sex-ed early. Sexual encounters can occur anytime, and I think that as young women, it’s priceless to understand healthy relationships and consent—especially in today’s ever-changing hookup culture which is plagued with scrutiny over what constitutes sexual assault.
In terms of sex-ed across the close, we often hear that St. Albans doesn’t have a structured form of sex-ed. NCS students usually interpret that as a fact that St. Albans doesn’t have sex-ed. That’s almost always taken out of context though; after asking around, I discovered that St. Albans sex-ed is taught primarily through mandatory speaker sessions. To my knowledge, St. Albans students learn about consent—the moral and legal sides of it—and they participate in certain co-educational activities like the One Love seminar that we all attend as juniors. While it may not be part of the curriculum, the boys certainly seem to have more of an understanding of sex-ed than some often think. After all, I think that healthy relationships and consent, as I’ve said, are two of the most integral parts of sex education.
What I think the close lacks in sex-ed is consistency. Whether we like it or not, STA and NCS are inseparable communities, and it’s important to learn the same things as one another—especially at the same age. However, STA doesn’t begin the sex-ed process freshman year like NCS does. One should enter high school with a solid understanding of what good relationships look like, and one should leave with that understanding reinforced. Sex education is crucial for boys and girls alike, and I think that two institutions that go above and beyond in every other aspect of education could do the same in sex-ed by synthesizing their curriculum.