Strategic Summit Grade Level Guides charter seeks to help students foster deeper sense of community

Editor’s Note: This is the third installment in a series about the school’s Strategic Summit initiative. The Strategic Summit is focused on five areas of the school and seeks to understand how that area can improve. This week’s article concerns the Grade Levels Guide of the Strategic Summit.

Every St. Louis U. High student has a unique experience, as the school’s abundance of co-curriculars, athletic teams, and student organizations allows everyone to find their own path. As a part of the Strategic Summit, the Grade Levels Guide committee has begun taking steps to create a more cohesive way of ensuring that all students have access to the quintessential Jr. Bill experience.

“In short, we want to provide students with the necessary foundation to be successful throughout their school career and to strive in every other aspect of their lives,” said college counselor Dan Shields, who co-chairs the Grade Levels Guide committee alongside science teacher Megan Menne. 

Coming into SLUH as freshmen, students are often unsure of what exactly they want to do with their time in high school. Led by Menne and Shields as co-chairs, the committee hopes to provide an aid to improve students’ individual experiences. Additional help creating and mastering the role of the guide will be provided by the Grade Level Guide committee members: campus minister Simonie Anzalone, social studies teacher Sarah Becvar, theology teacher Lindsey Kelleher, Director of the Learning Center Tim Curdt, and English teacher Adam Cruz. 

The Strategic Summit noticed that some students, particularly underclassmen, needed an immersive guide to help them navigate the many co-curricular activities and sports teams SLUH has to offer. Once the criteria is developed, the hope is that this guide can personally connect with students, and to keep them motivated and on track to accomplish their graduation requirements and overall goals. 

“(The guide) is somebody whose job it is to really understand the experience of whichever class level.  We call it a guide because the idea is that they sort of walk alongside the students, and to truly understand what there is for each grade. What is there at the freshman level, for example: what’s the experience in academics, co-curricular, the pastoral team?” said Menne.

In addition, the Grade Levels Guide committee is hoping to provide a basis through which the administration can ensure that all students are exposing themselves to all SLUH has to offer, and that they are approaching things the right way.

“Essentially, the hope is to cultivate themes, experiences, and goals for each grade level, to really foster leadership and faith, and to examine what we’re hoping to get out of each grade level. So, once you’re done with freshman year, you should have (been exposed) to these themes and these goals through leadership experiences. (Students) also should keep an open growth mindset, especially within faith, to go on and be successful in the following year,” said Shields.

Especially in a world emerging from the pandemic, student life at SLUH is more difficult to navigate than ever before, as many clubs and co-curriculars were effectively forced into year-long hiatuses. As such, the process of students becoming involved in clubs has changed, prompting the committee to look into developing guidelines to establish a “guide” for each grade level. This guide would be a particular faculty member assigned to a particular grade who is dedicated to ensuring that every student can find his own group at school, and that all are finding enjoyment in the realm of student life.

The grade levels guide will be conducted and carried out grade-by-grade. Every grade will have “different goals mapped out for them,” says Shields.  

Such a guide will help the committee truly “understand what is really there” stated Menne. The students at SLUH would benefit from having a guide that understands what they are experiencing at SLUH at a given grade level. The grade levels guide will be able to oversee what the class is experiencing as a whole, and how this can be changed for the betterment of the grade. 

Finding the happy medium between how a student as an individual feels and how the class as a whole feels is important as well. Menne said that one of the big concerns the committee has is “how do we make sure every student feels like they are part of a community here at SLUH, whether this be a sports team, co-curricular, or an alternate community, we want to make sure every student feels known.”  

As a part of the larger Strategic Summit aiming to take a step back and revise SLUH’s approach to 21st-century education, the Grade Levels Guide committee has worked in conjunction with other Summit committees to ensure that their approaches are streamlined and cohesive.

“Overall, this committee is very well-aligned with several of the other Strategic Summit committees that are going on right now,” said Shields. “So, we have been doing a lot of collaboration and we’ve been working well with each other to make sure that our goals for 21st century skills are all overlapping with the other committees’ goals for curriculum and schedule, for example.”

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