The long and tedious weeks with Saturday classes are over. The infamous Saturday class has been replaced with Pelican Day. While the concept may still seem confusing to both returning and new students, Mr. Donegan, dean of sophomores and Pelican Day administrator assures that, “[the administration is] trying to be very creative and try to do a combination or balance between fun activities but also some educational activities.” This past Saturday, Loomis held its first Pelican Day in which students from each class were involved in a variety of activities.
The freshmen travelled to Avon, Connecticut and hiked to the Heublein Tower in hopes of bonding and becoming closer as a class. Buses departed at 8 AM and arrived back on campus by lunchtime. Students from the local area of Avon were able to demonstrate their knowledge of their town while first-time visitors of Avon were awed by the view from the tower. Alexa Valadez ’20 said, “It was actually fun…it was…maybe a little bit later in the day, that’d be better, because then I’m not waking up that early.”
The sophomores further developed their understanding of the school theme, mind over matter, through various activities such as but not limited to canoeing, hiking, biking, fishing, and photography. Students of the sophomore class were taught by group leaders how to maintain a healthy mental and physical lifestyle through appreciating nature. Lucy Shao ’19 attests to the success of the program: “I had a stress-relieving walk along the river with my photography group and interacted with nature using my camera…[the experience was] fresh and energetic.”
The juniors participated in a variety of exercises to help them understand the concepts of meditation and de-stressing, starting with a lecture from Sharon Gutterman, founder of Mindful Wow! in Hubbard. Students were first asked to think carefully about what makes them stressed and then to participate in an exercise regarding edamame beans where they had to think, smell, and feel the bean before consuming it. From there, students were asked to walk in silence to Olcott gym in a single file line. While in Olcott, the students were asked to lie down flat on the gym floor, close their eyes, and think about what feelings they had when they were thinking about certain aspects of their body. The juniors’ final exercise happened in the Quad where Gutterman led in a few “yoga” exercises where she required them to stretch and breathe in a mindful way.
The seniors had the opportunity to participate in optional sessions to help them in their college application processes and in arranging visits to the colleges of their choice. Application and essay workshops were held in Gilchrist and seminars in writing supplemental essays and college interviews/visits were held in Clark. While many seniors took advantage of the morning sessions, some seniors enjoyed their optional day of seminars by catching up on sleep.
Members of the scheduling committee had stated that thoughts on decreasing the frequency of Saturday classes or getting rid of them entirely had been circulating for a while now. They have stated that surveys and models of other schools have proven that Saturday classes were not necessarily beneficial to the students. While many students were content with the activities they were required to do, some students have questioned the effectiveness of Pelican Day. Sophomore Benjamin Shani said Pelican Day “seems like a good idea but [Loomis] is sort of forcing us to wake up early again.” He also suggested that Pelican Day would be better if it started at 11AM. With mixed emotions, we have yet to see what our future Pelican Days have in store for us.