Jesuit adapts Wednesday schedule for more student access and involvement
Ahead of the second semester, Jesuit High School Sacramento made a number of changes from the procedures used in the Fall. One of the major changes was to the weekly schedule, specifically how Wednesdays would operate.
Previously, Wednesdays were a day mostly dedicated to students who wished to attend office hours with their teachers; now, however, they have much more to offer. While students can still use Wednesdays for academic enrichment, the new schedule also allows for the community to attend a spirit activity.
According to Jesuit President Father John McGarry, S.J., providing student activities is crucial to giving students the complete high school experience.
“Our program is an integrated program of academic excellence, co-curricular involvement, spiritual and religious formation,” Fr. McGarry said. “Our goal has always been to offer as much of that full program as we can in this COVID-19 environment.”
While one of the main ideas for Midweek Support Wednesdays in the first semester was to provide teachers with an opportunity to host office hours, students did not make use of them as much as was hoped.
“We thought, we didn’t know, but we anticipated that the need for dialogue with teachers would have been greater and more widely used, and it wasn’t and we learned that,” said Jesuit Principal Dr. Michael Wood ’99. “We learned that we can actually put those office hours for those students into those mornings that were … not being used. So we put the office hours in a time where either students were on campus and waiting for screening or were just dropped off early or whatever the case was.”
Wellness Counselor Mrs. Kasey Cardinale explained where the idea of Wellness Wednesdays came from and what purpose they hold.
“The newer hybrid schedule intentionally includes a student support day on Wednesdays,” Mrs. Cardinale said. “TeamCARE club and Wellness at Jesuit coined Wellness Wednesdays to help students remember to use this day in the middle of the week to find their smile.”
It is a day for students to relax, do fun activities or learn something new, but most importantly take care of themselves as Mrs. Cardinale explains.
“This may mean going outside to hit baseballs off of a tee, get out a musical instrument to practice a new song, call a family member or friend to connect, or prepare/bake a meal that makes you feel good,” Mrs. Cardinale said. “The purpose is to be able to change up the pace of a regular school day to focus on mental wellness, relationships, and relaxation.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has hindered the ability of schools everywhere to have students on campus, and Jesuit wants to recapture some of the joy of campus life back. It’s difficult to have these normal activities due to the pandemic, but the new schedule returns some of those activities.
“We wanted to add some structure to Wednesdays,” Dr. Wood said. “We knew we needed some academic on-campus structural time and then [in] the afternoon, we also wanted to bring some life back to campus. Life is hard in a COVID-19 mitigation scenario.”
Wednesdays allow for a bit of fun that would not usually take place on a normal school day.
“One of the reasons why schools are hard to open: lots of people in close proximity for long periods of time,” Dr. Wood said. “How you [open schools] safely requires strict mitigation protocols and that can interfere with [students’] ability to engage in fun ways and meaningful ways with their peers and with their teachers. So how do we find ways to have activities on campus that maybe can’t take place in a typical classroom day that we can do on Wednesdays that will at least in some way bring some life back to campus and give some experience of fun and joy that we certainly want our students to experience.”
On these days students are given a break from academics, and Mrs. Cardinale says that students should remember to take time to remember the most important things in life.
“In my opinion it has allowed the community to slow down in the midst of major external stressors during this pandemic,” Mrs. Cardinale said. “Just as we regularly slow down each day to examine, Wednesdays are similar in effort to refocus on what matters: God, our overall health, and our relationships with others–particularly in our homes.”
These days also enable students to examine themselves and their own health.
“Wednesdays allow for a Check Up from The Neck Up,” Mrs. Cardinale said. “Checking in with our thoughts/feelings and having space to care for our needs. Only then can we truly serve as Men and Women For and With Others.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the simple things that bring us joy have been forgotten. However, Jesuit’s new schedule reestablishes some of those activities that bring joy and life back to campus, while reinforcing the significance of physical and mental health.