J-Term daily schedule becomes more refined


Mike Harrington

The J-Term is set to start this January, however some AP students won’t be experiencing it.

While the formal schedule for the J-Term has not been formally released yet, Assistant Head of School for Academics Mr. Patrick Sillup already has a good sense of what a regular day would look like during that time period.

“The J-Term experience will start every day like we do,” he said. “You will come in and go to homeroom and check in and let your teacher know you are here.”

After this, the first block would start around nine o’clock, running for two hours until about 11. Then, something resembling the lunch block would kick in, which also should be around two hours.

“We will file through different classes for lunch. I would love to offer mass or reflective time at that time. I would love to offer class sessions in Duffy Theater at that time as well. Maybe there is an initiative that counselors can think about and what that looks like from a freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior perspective,” Sillup said.

During the lunch block, there are still a lot of ideas in development of what will go on during that time, and Sillup really wants to use this time beneficially. “I would like to create a really robust community time at that time. Father Reilly has a bunch of great ideas, too,” he said.

Finally, the day ends with a second course block which goes from one to three o’clock. This rough draft of the schedule will be replaced with a formal one soon ideally somewhere within the timeframe of October, according to Sillup.  

“What I would like to do is to publish the schedule to the faculty first in early October and then to the students in late October,” Sillup said. “This would then kick start students in thinking what they’re interested in and getting signed up and getting everything scheduled.”

An important part of the schedule which will impact a significant amount of students regarding the J-Term is the AP Institute. This is the program devised for students enrolled in AP courses during the J-Term. Since normal classes can’t run in the same way during this time period, this plan was necessary because of the rigorous AP curriculums.

“So if you are a student who is taking AP classes, the big concern from the AP teachers what is that if we are off for two weeks and then eight more days, how do we manage that? Where we landed is to have the AP classes still running but in a different format,” he said.

Instead of taking the newly formulated J-Term courses, students with three or more AP classes will have access to their AP teachers during their blocks. “So in a lot of ways it almost accelerates your coursework during that time because you don’t have to worry about other courses and can lock in just on that,” Sillup said.

Because of the overriding importance of the AP classes, J-Term classes won’t be an option for this group of students.

“I know that within that we will have AP students who say ‘gosh I really want to explore these other J-Term options.’ Unfortunately, at this point we can’t have the students do both,” he said. “It will be either or.”

While all AP students are in the AP institute, a silver lining to this slightly gloomy dark cloud is the possibility that students taking less than three AP courses may still be able to be involved in a J-Term course.  

“That’s what we’re working on. That might be possible. We are trying to make sure that that’s as seamless as it can be,” Sillup said.

Senior Nick Villano, who is taking five AP classes, likes the idea of the J-Term.

“I think it’ll be cool… I think some of the classes sound interesting, I’m just kinda disappointed that I can’t take any [J-Term] classes. I wish there was a way that I could take the classes and my APs,” Villano said.

Senior Garrett Reilly, who is taking 3 AP courses, also had something to say regarding the matter of APs during the J-Term.

“I mean I’m kind of bummed I’m not taking a J-Term course. It seemed kinda fun,” Reilly said.  “But it’s good that we are doing our APs keeping with it because we have fallen more behind. We have less class than public school, so we need as much time as we can get.”

Additionally, Reilly likes how the J-Term is structured regarding semester. “I like how we have the J-Term and Semester system. It’s nice to have a break right after Christmas. You get right back into things,” he said.

Another aspect of the J-Term that Sillup hopes to share with the Malvern community soon is the course list itself.

“It is not available yet. Teachers are still refining. When we ended the year last year, we had a course book of about 60,” Sillup said. ‘That’s going to change because an AP teacher may not offer that class as an AP any longer. We also have new faces on campus.”

These classes were all pitched by individual teachers as topics that interested them and after running it by Sillup, they were allowed to go forward with their ideas.

“Each person wrote up about a paragraph description of the course itself,” he said. “I had a lot of new things to check out and you guys will have a chance to kind of file through it and and say ‘alright, here’s something that looks interesting.’”

Faculty like History of the Church teacher Mrs. Jessica Kenworthey are excited about the upcoming J-Term and their classes during it.

“I think a lot of colleges are doing it, so since we are college preparatory school, it makes sense for us to do it to give them the experience of what a J-Term is going to be,” Kenworthey said.

She also can’t wait to see how students of different learning styles will tackle the unorthodox learning environment presented by the J-Term.

“I think it’s gonna give students who are very hands on, who are very kinetic, auditory learners, learners who learn differently than a traditional classroom setting,” Kenworthey said. “It’s gonna be a great experience for them.”

According to Sillup, the goal of the J-Term is to open up experiences for Malvern students to go beyond the traditional academic disciplines.

“For eight days it is a neat time to sort of explore that, think about it, process the first semester, break into the second semester. But I think the main thing that comes to mind is a chance for guys to dig into into something that they otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to do,” he said.

Sillup’s biggest hope for the J-Term is to have people be interested in and inspired by the information and courses that they will interact with.

“I hope that in the J-Term people are going to come back to school in a really comfortable way so that the J-Term ends, and we say ‘Ok, we are ready to start the second semester and I’m ready to push to the end of the year.’ That would be a great thing for me. So inspired, connected, and refreshed. That would be a wonderful combination,” he said.