Advisory Pilot Program
A lot changed for Hanover students in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but aside from constant sanitizing, distancing, and wearing a mask, one of the biggest alterations to our school is the almost entirely unfamiliar schedule. With block scheduling, lunch, and even a study period there are so many new things to familiarize yourself with, but one commonality brings us all together eight times a week: advisory.
The idea of an advisory was conceived last year when the possibility of a new schedule was prominent. Advisory was set to be an alternative to common ground, due to a “lack of consistency,” says Devon Voake, a school counselor and one of the creators of advisory. “Different groups would do different activities” in common ground, so advisory was derived as a way to standardize these meetings among students and staff so that each group was doing more or less the same thing.
This basic outline of advisory underwent major changes during remote learning last spring and over the summer. Staff subcommittees and council members saw that there was a rising need for a social and emotional aspect of our day at school. After advisory was accepted into the curriculum by the CPP–the committee that makes the major decisions–the concept of ‘circle’ was born. “We tried circle with the peer leaders, who were skeptical at first, but after having tried it changed their opinions,” describes Devyn Agett, member of council, and another creator of advisory. Circle emphasizes listening before speaking, and its principles of practicing empathy, presence, growth, and respect, were developed as tools students could utilize to become a functioning person throughout their lives.
Once the plan for the fall semester started falling into place, advisory became finalized. Advisories were arranged by grade so that specific issues or announcements could be addressed more easily than in common ground, in which there was a mix of students from each grade level. Fitting advisory into the lunch and study periods would create specific times for students to be with their advisory, without having to add more periods into the schedule.
One of the most important things to consider about advisory is that it is still just a “pilot program” according to Ms. Agett and Voake. The borders can still change depending on what benefits students the most, while still maintaining the COVID guidelines. Advisory was created to provide students with a way to practice social and emotional skills in a school that is highly academic and teach students that it is more important to be a kind person than to ‘win’. As long as advisory is providing an ability to utilise and perfect these skills, it is performing its purpose in Hanover High.