No: We are more than a school

By Etan Lerner, Staff Writer


During Town Hall on May 3rd, Jack Metzger spoke about what he called an academic decline in Shalhevet. His speech consisted of two main elements: that SAS classes of varying difficulty were replacing AP classes which is hindering the academic standards of Shalhevet and that GPA boosts are the main reason for people to take these classes as opposed to because of a love of learning, and that as a school, we spend too much time as a community straying from academics.

He mentioned that he should not have to compromise his academic growth just because Shalhevet is a Jewish school. His opinion at the time was controversial and sparked many debates within the halls. I would like to provide some nuance to his argument.

The problem he mentioned with students chasing the GPA boost over authentic learning is a real one and I agree that it is plaguing Shalhevet. But on the other hand, this issue has been apparent for years, and it is not limited to Shalhevet. I understand that people everywhere want to be in classes for a higher GPA, as opposed to a desire to learn at an advanced level. Students will not be as engaged and will do the least amount of effort for an A.

I completely agree with him on this issue, but is this not different from every high school? This problem is not one which only affects Shalhevet. In fact, Shalhevet attempts to diminish this problem by removing AP classes and replacing them with SAS ones. But as long as there are GPA boosts, there will be people taking classes only for said boost. This problem is certainly real, but I wonder which solutions Jack would propose to attempt to minimize this problem.

I think that the best way to inspire students towards learning is curiosity. Once Shalhevet teachers can get students to ask questions and genuinely be interested in a subject, they can inspire them to want to learn instead. Experiencing love of learning is truly beautiful and allows us to open our minds to countless possibilities. We can foster intellectual curiosity, which can transfer to learning with intention. This is the purpose of any school.

As a school, we are deeper than just a college preparatory school, we are a community.

Jack also talked about how Shalhevet’s numerous celebrations, for which it is known and even advertises to prospective students, and how these events take away from learning and academics. He is certainly right that these events take away from learning time, but this is not who we are.

As a school, we are deeper than just a college preparatory school, we are a community. We are a Jewish community that understands the value, rather the necessity, in learning general studies, but also is bound by halakha.

If Shalhevet were only interested in preparing their students for college, we would have no Judaic studies. We wouldn’t be able to commemorate Yom Hashoah, or celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut. Shalhevet is not only focused on preparing students for college; it is also focused on preparing students for adult life.

Shalhevet teaches their students to love and appreciate Judaism, but also to love and appreciate communal happiness. Everyone knows that we could be learning instead of color war. We could be learning instead of a Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration. But this is not what we do as a school. This is a part of Shalhevet, just like teaching general studies and Judaic studies. And at the end of the day, which will be more significant: one missed calculus class, or an unforgettable experience which will stay with us?