Menlo School students hike in Yosemite during Knight School, the program that was recently changed to May Term. Photo by Daniel Chan.
By Silas Stewart
Menlo is constantly promoting change, often transforming school traditions in the process. One beloved school tradition was Knight School which, starting this year, is being replaced by May Term. However, for the most part, students have been kept in the dark. “I don’t know that much about the specifics revolving May Term,” sophomore Finn Leschly said.
“May Term will be more grade-level determined, unlike Knight School,” said May term board member, Peter Brown. The goal is for May Term to become an entire month. This will entail a month activities that vary based on each student’s grade that will further help students embody the Menlo mission.
The May Term committee has a rough idea of what each grade will accomplish throughout the given time. Ninth graders will learn more about Californian geography and the environmental problems that many in this area are combating now. Tenth graders will take classes on criminal justice, local education, and poverty. Whereas ninth and tenth graders only have one option for May Term, 11th graders will have elective choices that follow the mission of the school. Finally, 12th graders will get to do the Senior Project.
The May Term committee, including Brown, believes that students will further benefit because they will deepen their understanding of the area surrounding their home and nation as a whole and, as the years pass, will have the freedom they may have felt during Knight School.
Brown believes that the quality of Knight School courses varied, whereas May Term will provide consistency. It also benefits students because it will run at the beginning of May which eliminates sports conflicts so students can attend the full variety of opportunities presented to them. Other teachers are happy because it will be a very meaningful experience. "The interdisciplinary, experiential components of May term courses are designed to bring students to deeper levels of understanding than a more traditional class would," English teacher Cara Plamondon said. Lastly, May term will allows students to go abroad in programs that will be cheaper and longer.
A lot of students are disappointed about the change for varying reasons. “Knight School cannot simply be replaced with ease,” senior Nick Barrett said. Other students, such as senior Thomas Brown, believe that the freedom of choice that came with Knight School will be lost. “May Term seems more limited in its options,” Brown said.
Although many students feel pessimistic about May Term, others see possible benefits to May Term. “There's the added benefit of not having to be stressed out for finals as it falls after the exams,” junior Conor McCusker said. Others are happy that May Term will benefit athletes. “I know that it minimizes sports conflicts which is great,” sophomore Cole Kastner said.
While many students are upset about the change, Brown is hopeful that the new program will serve as a positive learning experience. Although Knight School will be missed, May Term still presents an opportunity for students to have a great time while also having a purposeful experience.