Changes to wellness classes scheduling creates new problems for sophomores



Following the cancellation of wellness classes for sophomores last year, they have to take their wellness classes this year, which differs from the traditional method of taking the class freshman year.

Many 10th graders wake up, brush their teeth and leave their homes to go to school, possibly for the first time in a year. They enter school hoping for a return to normalcy, but a number are met with disappointment when they see their schedule has their wellness course meeting only one time per week.

This year is the first time sophomores are required to take a wellness course. In the past, all freshmen were required to take a health and wellness class and upper grades could opt out if they participated in a sport or got a waiver for a sport outside the high school. Now that two full grades are required to take wellness courses, the department has needed to adjust dramatically. This has caused some 10th grade wellness classes to meet only one time during the week.

Both the wellness teachers and the students have had to accommodate as teachers are struggling to help their class connect and learn the content. By implementing community building activities, wellness teachers like Keith Thomas hope to make it easier for students to open up to one another, even with a restricted number of classes each week.

Thomas teaches two integrated 10th grade wellness classes, each of which meets one a week for the whole year. Because of this scheduling, he said he finds it difficult to connect with his students.

To deal with this, Thomas starts each class with something around community building because he wants the class to feel welcomed.

“I think content has to take a backseat to building community with those one-day per week classes. It’s more important for all the students to come in feeling comfortable, which is very difficult,” Thomas said.

One of Thomas’s students, sophomore Nathan Ives, said that it can be hard to connect with his class but said that Thomas does a good job at helping the students connect with his unique community building activities.

“He did some cool activities where you had to talk to someone for two minutes without making it awkward, which was interesting because then you actually got to know these people, and then later you can connect back with that topic,” Ives said.

Sophomore Rafael Mendez-Sippen, another student of Thomas’s, said that connections are important in wellness.

“We had a pretty deep conversation, and I’m not sure that with a stranger, I’d be willing to have those conversations. But with the people who I have class with, I’m okay with having them because I trust them, and I know that I’m going to know them for the next three years,” Mendez-Sippen said.

Despite his efforts, Thomas said he is unsure if his students will have enough time to understand the content.

“Will they remember, will they remember? Almost every class is like a review, but we also have to introduce new material, so I don’t know,” Thomas said.

Mendez-Sippen said only meeting once per week has made it hard to remember material.

“It’s kind of hard to remember after a week what you learned the previous week. You really have to memorize it,” Mendez-Sippen said.

Katherine Torres-Perez, a sophomore in one of health teacher Emily Hunt’s classes, said she doesn’t think there is enough time to understand the content, even though Hunt’s class meets twice a week.

“There are a lot of topics about health that a lot of adolescents and teenagers need to learn about. I think that there should be more health classes,” Torres-Perez said.

While Torres-Perez said that more health classes would help students learn the curriculum better, she said that she thinks blocks where she has health class could be used for catching up or doing important assignments.

“A lot of people suffer with the frustration with other classes that they have with things like tests, quizzes, exams and all that,”Torres-Perez said.

Ives said that he would rather have another elective block instead of a required wellness class.

“If I have a full year block that I have to take, then I can’t take any other electives besides this,” Ives said. “We’re not going to be able to have as many electives as all the other grades, which to me isn’t that fair, but I still think that health has to happen.”

Despite the challenges the limited class time has forced many students and teachers to face, Thomas said he is hopeful that scheduling gets figured out because wellness classes are only getting more important.

“The sad thing for me is that it’s not going to continue,” Thomas said. “I wish it would continue for 9th grade and 10th grade, and every year we talk about health, because mental health isn’t going anywhere. The stress level and anxiety of students in BHS is high, and it’s not going down. It’s only going up.”