Ninth Grade Academy goal is improved communication, focused experience

Kyle Leonard

According to Ninth Grade Academy Leaders Mrs. Susan Giordani and Ms. Jackie White, the Academies have been in the making for roughly two years.

The Academy Leaders have worked hard to enhance the freshman experience and to make them more comfortable as Malvern students.

“Yes the idea came to us around 2015 I believe. So we started planning this and getting together all year trying to design how this would look,” Giordani said. “The idea really came up from the middle school so the plan was adapting it to the high school.”

“It’s all about teaming and being more of a cohesive learning experience and really getting to know one another in this teaming up kind of thing,” White added. “Everything we did last year has been enhanced.”

The goal of the Academies is to focus on the student experience, specifically the freshmen.

“There is an intentional focus now, so for instance this is how the J-Term came about, because we were focusing on how we can really make it work for the students when they come back for the second semester, because it felt really disjointed last year,” Giordani said.

They began to plan the logistics of the Academies soon after.

“So we really started talking about how things worked, like what if we had a freshman floor in Carney [Hall] where everyone could be together.”

“And we did do some of that last year, but not really,” White said. “We tried last year and we knew things were good, but let’s improve it and make it cohesive and intentional.”

The Academies are improving from past students’ feedback as well.

“The last two years we tried having the freshmen in the basement floor of Carney [Hall], and getting them there for Community Time, but at the same time we needed more cohesion so we’re doing the same thing this year just again making it more intentional. We asked students what they liked and what they didn’t like, do you like quiet Community Time or do you not and things like that.The whole thing is based on feedback from previous students,” Giordani said.

The freshman have now been moved to the main floor of Carney Hall, the second floor.

“That was a logistical decision, whatever worked, we worked with the schedule we worked with Mr. Koenig and figured out which would be the best floor for it,” White said.

The freshmen no longer have to stay in Carney Hall for Community Time.

“The freshmen don’t have to stay in their rooms for Community Time, but they will be shown an assembly for what Community Time is used for,” Giordani said. “Imagine back to freshman year, when you had this big chunk of time and figuring out the best way to use it, whether it’s for meeting with teachers, clubs, activities, or anything.”

The goal of the Academies is more communication between the students and faculty and staff.

“The first couple weeks are just going to be constantly reminding them what is going to happen so there is just a lot more communication than in past years to kind of ease them in,” said White.

Assistant Head of School for Academics Mr. Patrick Sillup hopes that having a team dedicated to the ninth grade experience helps kids feel more connected faster with their classmates and improve their relationships in the long run.

“I hope that if you were to stop a guy now, they felt more familiar with their teachers, with their peers, and with their campus sooner than they would have if we just said ‘Let’s just start the year and go to class,’” Sillup said.

Freshman Riley McCarry, enjoyed freshman orientation, but had some feedback.

“It was very informative, but I feel like we spent too much time on the projects we did there and I wish we spent more time interacting with each other,” McCarry said. “The main project we did was we had to build mobiles with the friar logo and tell stories about our Malvern journey, I wish we still did all that but still did something else that helped us get into more groups.”

“I liked freshman orientation a lot and it was thorough, but I wish we did more social activities and got to know each other more but I still really liked it,” Fricker said.

The freshmen gave feedback on what they would have added for their orientation and for next year.

“If I could choose to add something, because we went on the turf a lot, would be something like sports games and activities we could have played together,” McCarry said.

“I say something like that, you know a sports game, or some sort of team-building activity or exercise,” Fricker said.