When we began exploring possibilities for a new schedule in the fall of 2013, one of the core goals was to enhance our support for student well-being. This effort would mean facilitating the roll-out of a comprehensive, multiyear health curriculum, and it would also mean reviewing the flow of our students’ daily activities and adding in more flexibility where possible.
Sports and exercise are central to the Andover experience and crucial during the teenage years. The American Academy of Pediatrics calls exercise “the most important part of a plan to manage stress.” With the charge to determine whether our current structure met our intended goals for the athletics program and to suggest changes as relevant, the Athletic Philosophy Implementation Working Group provided a number of policy recommendations. Several of the group’s recommendations have already been adopted [or will be] by the Athletics Department. These include:
- Added choice for students in terms of what counts for the exercise and sport requirement.
- Exercise and sport still being a requirement when PE is a “sixth” course. [When we implement the 4×5 schedule, sports and exercise will be required even when a student is taking PE.]
- Added flexibility in Varsity, JV, Life Sports, and intramural meeting schedules.
- Hiring a permanent fitness room staff-person who is also a strength and conditioning coach, and whose presence allows us to offer flexible fitness options during the day.
Sports and Exercise Requirement Vote Results
Another recommendation from the working group was held in abeyance until the new schedule was determined. The recommendation was to shift from the current, 12–season exercise and sport requirement with a one-season “slide” option to a 12-season requirement with a two-season slide option. At the time of the recommendation, this proposal was one possible idea for providing enhanced flexibility in students’ schedules.
During the May 9 faculty meeting, there was an open discussion on the requirement. A binding faculty vote took place the following morning, and the results demonstrated that a majority of faculty supports the continuation of the exercise and sport requirement as it currently stands. The results were 64% in favor of the current policy, 29% in favor of the proposed change, and 7% who abstained. Overall, the sentiment was that the working group’s other, implemented recommendations plus the new, 4×5 schedule will provide students with sufficient flexibility and that the one-season slide option remain as is:
- Uppers and seniors may pursue an Independent Exercise Option for one term (upper winter or spring, or senior fall or winter) if they have passed PHED-200 and the swim test and with permission of their advisor.
Thank you to all who participated and especially to our Athletic Philosophy Implementation Working Group for leading this effort.
Also high on the list of priorities for the Strategic Plan was the master plan that calls for a four-stage renewal of the Academy’s athletic facilities. We are excited that Phase One of the Athletics Facilities Master Plan—the installation of a new field house and squash center—will begin this summer. Continue to check the Strategic Plan Blog for updates.