Most high schools expect their students to sit through regimented class periods beginning strictly at 8am (or even earlier), participate in their after-school activities that can sometimes go well into the late evening hours, and then somehow manage to thoughtfully complete hours of homework and get a good night's rest—all to do it again the next day. Unfortunately, this environment is also responsible for student's claiming that high school has made them "stressed, tired, and bored."
Bennett Day Upper School is doing things differently and doing right by teens. We believe in creating a healthy high school experience that recognizes a teen's passions to be as important to their learning and development as any other type of learning.
At Bennett Day Upper School, we believe that the "extracurricular is curricular." Dedicated outside activities are treated like any other elective course and are reflected on student transcripts as areas of competency.
We built our modular schedule to benefit all students, yet there is potentially even more value to be found for "specialist" students who are highly dedicated to extracurricular activities and passions outside of school—the elite athlete who trains daily after school and travels on weekends; the budding performer spending evenings at late-night rehearsals; the gifted computer programmer who craves the freedom and resources to deeply explore and create; and so many more.
How Bennett Day Upper School's Schedule Creates Ideal Flexibility:
Our school day begins at 9am to allow our teens a healthy sleep schedule; however, the time before school is also valuable to early-risers who may choose to use this time for training, homework, etc.
From 9-2:30, all students follow the same schedule:
- Advisory is a time where each class works together on social-emotional and executive-functioning learning and meets with advisors for goal-setting around competency-based assessment.
- Project-Based Learning blocks are dedicated to exploring integrated studies into relevant topics sparked by a combination of student curiosity and an identification of the necessary skills they need to have to be effective citizens.
- Seminars are discipline-based courses that are more traditional in their approach, as students focus on two areas of study, to be determined by faculty with input from the students and parents.
At 2:30, each student's schedule is entirely adaptable to their needs:
- Blended Learning time is dedicated to personalized virtual classes (live learning with an instructor through an online platform, rather than videos) through VLACS Virtual Learning Academy, including mathematics. Because these courses are virtual, students can choose to set up these courses at any time of day.
- Elective Courses are student-dependent. If there’s a desire for a course, the Upper School faculty will make it happen by either bringing in adjunct faculty or possibly going off site.
- If a student has a dedicated extracurricular activity, they can work with advisors to count this as an elective toward graduation. Advisors will be in touch with coaches/directors/parents/etc. to touch base and help set goals and monitor skill-building progress around these activities.
- Our partnership with UIC's Recreation Center provides students with the option of training as an elective course or on Wednesdays after lunch when students have flex time.
So What Could This Look Like? A Few Examples...
These are just three examples of the infinite ways in which Bennett Day Upper School's modular schedule could be adapted to meet the needs of any number of talented students. We believe that when each student is allowed to live their individual passions, the entire community is lifted even higher.
Find out more about Bennett Day Upper School's innovative program by attending an Open House!