Our Legacy

Peter Schmidt, Senior Managing Editor

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On August 13, CHS Principal Dr. Dan Gutchewsky welcomed the senior class back to school by reiterating one of his personal missions at Clayton. “I strongly believe in the power of relationships,” he said.

Just four days earlier and eight miles away, Michael Brown was shot by a police officer in Ferguson in an incident that would ignite the St. Louis community and echo around the world.

In the following week, the sole explicit acknowledgement of this tragedy at CHS came from Dr. Gutchewsky himself. In a third period intercom announcement, he addressed the highly emotional circumstances of the shooting and its consequences while emphasizing the need for community support and empathy.

Thirty seconds later, class continued according to plan.

The tragedy in Ferguson remained almost entirely un-discussed in most classes. History lectures resumed while history was being made mere miles away. In the aftermath of that crisis, when Gutchewsky’s mission to build strong relationships and community was the most crucial, CHS was silent.

The students and teachers of CHS need time to build a community. We are a school that prides itself on academic excellence, and as a result every moment is precious. But this strict use of time has a cost. When every passing minute is single-mindedly dedicated to achieving deadlines and covering various curricular requirements, we lose the opportunity to build the relationships that truly define an education.

Accordingly, we, the CHS Globe staff, believe that the administration should change the high school schedule to include a thirty-minute advisory period every two weeks.

Twice a month, every CHS student would have thirty minutes of unstructured time to discuss with their class anything that occurs beyond the doors of CHS. The most pressing example is the Ferguson crisis. But this community period is not intended to simply be a reaction to tragedy.

Ferguson did not prompt the need for a closer CHS community. Rather it emphasized a problem that already needed to be addressed.

When students understand more about the lives and beliefs of their teachers and peers, they perform better in school. It is a simple practice that is used in Kindergarten classrooms and college tutorials. All it takes is a little time.

Of course, with our already packed schedules, the task of allotting thirty minutes every two weeks to extracurricular “team-building” seems absurd. But, over the course of the year, this schedule change would result in a cumulative loss of only one and half periods per class.

One and a half periods. This is the equivalent of a sophomore missing a single lab day in their chemistry class. At the cost of one and a half periods of a class, we can give every CHS student nine whole hours over the school year to simply learn about their classmates and the world.

It is crucial that the teachers are a part of this advisory as well. The change would require no extra work on the part of the teacher. Clayton is defined by its stellar staff, but their prowess as educators is by no means limited to a textbook.

Our teachers have graduated from high school, grown up and found direction. That alone gives them a type of wisdom that we as students lack. For adolescents trying to find our place in the world, this is perhaps the most important lesson of all.

The realizations that our teachers have discovered and the mistakes they have made are just as important to our development as young adults as any differential equation or historical treaty. We are given eight periods a day to learn how to survive school. We need at least one period to learn how to live.

For thirty minutes every two weeks, CHS students and teachers can build a community. We can learn to value the results of our Clayton education as they relate to the outside world. We can grow not just as students, but as people.

I believe that everybody at CHS would agree with Dr. Gutchewsky’s mission. We believe in the power of relationships.

Let’s prove it.