Changes to Advisory to the 2021 school year

This school year has been a rollercoaster. In a normal school year, freshmen would have advisory with various teachers in the freshman building as well as 2 senior advisors. Due to COVID, there has been no advisory for the freshmen, and unfortunately, the seniors had to miss out on the senior advisory program as well. After speaking with Ms. Kondos, who runs the advisory program, we were able to determine how this affected both teachers and students. We also spoke with seniors who wanted to be a part of the program and learned about what it took to have this program run with all the adjustments that needed to be made due to the pandemic.

What does having advisory do for the mental health of teachers and students?
Advisory was created for students to have a safe environment to be able to connect with their peers. Since Neuqua Valley is a large school, it needed a program that made it feel a little smaller and gave students the ability to connect with older students and teachers. The program is geared towards making the incoming freshman more comfortable with high school as well as sharing different resources with them. Throughout the year there are Social Emotional Learning lessons, but advisory is more focused on teamwork and connecting with the people you’re going to be with for the next 4 years. This program allows students to connect with their peers, and offers advice and support that freshmen will take with them for the rest of their life. The faculty enjoy getting to know the students in a smaller setting. It is a very interactive program, which is why it was so difficult to run this year, as students would not turn their cameras on to engage in the class.

Why is advisory only offered to freshmen and not sophomores and juniors?
Advisory used to be for all students, but unfortunately it did not work as well for older students. Older students noticed that they needed more time for academics and students sought more support from their teachers. Advisory was then changed for just freshmen and the extra time in the day for sophomores to seniors was added to each class to ensure ample time for them to have more support.

Will sophomores next year have advisory as they were unable to have it this year?
As of right now, the freshman this year will not have in-person advisory next year to make up for its lack this year. Videos were made for them to watch if they chose to, but it was hard for seniors and teachers to engage with the freshmen who chose to turn their camera off and not participate. The weekly videos were posted on Google Classroom, and they shared advice, support, and resources that freshmen can access. Some of the videos talk about who freshmen can ask for support and how freshmen can obtain their work permit.

I asked seniors Rewa Narsana and Namish Kaistha how not being a part of senior advisory affected them this year, and they both shared their individual experiences. Rewa shared a memory of hers from freshman year when she was first introduced to the idea of advisory. She discussed how nervous she was to participate in advisory for the first time, but how it ended up being one of the most impactful experiences of her high school career. She said, “It became my ‘high school dream’ to become an advisor and follow in the footsteps of those who once helped me.” Namish talked about how she knew that the experience of being a senior advisor would differ from previous years but still be worth it. She knew that the program would be through Zoom and that it would take a lot of effort to make this program the best it could be in the pandemic. Namish shares that, “Although this year brought a lot of change, the advisors approached every obstacle with as much energy as the last.”