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Switching it Up: Bromfield Might Be Going Through Some Major Changes

Rumors have been swirling around Bromfield for the past few months— those of teacher changes, separation of the middle school and high school, language curriculum changes and deleveling (which is the process of removing Honors and College Prep levels). Some of these rumors were confirmed in early April, when the administration informed parents of incoming 9th graders that all of the freshman subjects taught would be deleveled. These changes were designed to help curb feelings of stress and anxiety, which were very high in the 2022 Youth Risk Survey results, as well as to align the curriculum and schedule with the school’s vision statement. Ms. Murphy explains, “There can be a tendency, especially as you get towards your senior year, for this place to feel like a pressure cooker. So I’m wondering how we can have some release valves, or allow students to feel like they can opt into some pathways—release valves—to give themselves a little bit of a break but still be able to pursue their passions.” However, these modifications quickly sparked controversy, and students, teachers, and parents have conflicting feelings.

Many students are unhappy with these changes, like the unleveling of the entire ninth grade curriculum. Historically, Bromfield’s ninth graders could take Introduction to Literature College Prep or Introduction to Literature Honors, as well as Algebra I CP, Geometry CP, or Algebra II H. 9th graders will now only be able to take the unleveled version of the Geometry and Introduction to Literature classes. 

On Friday, May 12, there was a protest in front of Bromfield before the beginning of school where participants spoke out against these changes. The message was loud and clear: students do not want unleveled classes. “You’re making people fit into smaller boxes by deleveling” said junior Anna Ivanov, “You’re taking away that environment where they can study what they want to.” Besides, deleveling will not only be affecting ninth graders. This past school year, there was only one middle school class that was leveled, which was mathematics in eighth grade. This will also be going away, as middle school principal Mr. Greene says that he “doesn’t want kids to feel like they’re locked-in in eighth grade.” This has not caused as much of a scandal, as eighth grade classes are not on college applications, nor are they weighted into GPAs. 

The music department’s controversial changes are also impacting students. Many students in Bromfield are part of the amazing music department and love being taught by Mr. Robbins and Mr. Milne. Since both of them arrived, Mr. Robbins taught band and Mr. Milne taught choir. However, this tradition is about to change. Starting next fall for the 2023-2024 school year, Mr. Milne will teach both middle school band and choir, while Mr. Robbins will take on the high school ones. Because of the widespread impact of the ninth grade deleveling, there has not been much focus on this information. But, again, students are less than pleased. In fact, there are writings in school restrooms speaking out against this particular change, seen in this photo saying “I want Mr. Milne for HS choir.” The music department declined to comment. 

Many of the middle school schedule changes are in response to worries that the pace of the middle school is too fast and intense. Mr. Greene states, “I don’t want 11-year-old kids to come over here and their first period of the day is with a teacher who’s not necessarily their homeroom teacher, and there’s no relationship building time. It’s syllabus time, it’s rules time, next class, next class, next class.” 

To combat this, the middle school administration constructed a new schedule. The biggest changes are the addition of a homeroom and a WIN-WYN period, the extension of lunch, the removal of the traditional third period snack break, and the cutting of regular language classes. WIN-WYN stands for “What I Need – What You Need”, and it is a 40 minute period at the end of every day where teachers can meet with fellow teachers, as well as give extra help to students who need it. It is also where the third period snack break would be moved.

Of these aforementioned middle school changes, the most controversial one seems to be the one regarding language classes. Currently, Spanish and French are treated as core classes that students attend every day. Now, it’s a Unified Arts (also known as an elective) class, and classes will meet every three days (two out of seven). This was done to open up more time for other electives and free periods (like the WIN-WYN time), as well as to ensure kids aren’t locked in a language. It gives kids more flexibility if they want to switch from Spanish to French, or vice-versa. In terms of changes in what kids learn, Mr. Poe explains, “The plan is to teach the same general skills, but it may be done with a little less of the culture.” There have been worries from parents and students that this will affect students’ language skills with less immersion and repetition, but administration and the language department are hoping to structure the curriculum so that this is not the case. 

All things considered, the administration would like to stress that nothing is set in stone. Administration and teachers are still working on the details and schematics, and they hope to have more student and parent feedback during this whole process.  Administration hopes to have the schedule and class changes set in a way that works for everyone. Students that do not like these changes will not stay silent, so there may be future developments and changes, especially since summer is fast approaching.

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