This article appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of the Tower Hill Bulletin.
By Head of Upper School Megan Cover
As a school, Tower Hill is committed to the development of the whole child in mind, body and spirit. We pride ourselves on rigorous academics, competitive athletics and creative arts while recognizing that student mental and physical well-being are an important part of Multa Bene Facta. In this vein, we have spent the past two years implementing a revised and enhanced health program in our freshman seminar, 10th grade health and peer leadership coupled with the addition of Winterim.
Winterim is a dedicated period within our academic program that focuses thematically on the following areas: well-being, service, self advocacy, the college admission process and life skills. In these sessions, age-appropriate activities help students prepare for healthy, happy and successful lives while at Tower Hill and beyond.
Winterim Courses: 2019-2020
9th Grade: Self Awareness and Self Care
Students learned about the following topics: ethics, entrepreneurship, goal setting, disappointment and growth, the brain, affirmative consent, mental health and self care. They focused on the importance of movement through yoga and play. This session is aligned with the yearlong freshman seminar course. The purpose of the freshman seminar is to help ninth grade students understand Tower Hill’s mission and how it applies to each student as an individual; provide a forum to help students know themselves in order to grow as Upper School students and beyond; and provide students with a space in which to process their freshman year experiences as they occur. This course follows the Expectations of a Hiller: Be Proud, Be Present, Be Professional, Be Proactive. Topics include study skills, introduction to the college counseling process and preparing for college, body image, drug and alcohol education, decision education, stress and coping skills, mental health and wellness, and the brain.
10th Grade: Sophomore Service
The Office of Service Learning provides 10th grade students with an introduction to the importance of community service in the Wilmington area. Throughout their experience, students discuss their goals and expectations. Small groups volunteered at one of the following community sites: Head Start, Ronald McDonald House of Delaware, Tick Tock Early Learning Center, Lutheran Community Services, Habitat for Humanity, Ingleside Homes, Waggies by Maggie & Friends, West End Neighborhood House, Mom’s House and the Mary Campbell Center. Winterim is spent with nonprofits on projects that meet the needs of the particular agency, and all agencies provide an orientation to students. All students end each day to debrief collectively and reflect upon their experience.
11th Grade: Junior Kick Off to the College Admission Process
The Office of College Counseling provides students with an overview of “The College Visit” process. They focus on how to approach the college information session and tour. The group discusses valuable questions to ask when visiting a college, what to observe on the tour and how to go “beyond admissions” to gain valuable insight into the personality of a campus. They put this training into action by visiting three college campuses representing three different “types” of schools. Following the visits, college counselors review what students learned and discuss how to apply this experience to their own college searches.
12th Grade: Life Skills
The transition from senior year of high school to college and beyond is one marked by a number of new responsibilities and opportunities. One of the most challenging emotional shifts is that, for the first time for many, post high school life is driven by personal choice. Choices about what classes to take, when/where/how/if to do schoolwork, where to travel, what sort of employment to seek, what types of relationships to engage in, how to allocate budgets—and the list goes on. Because our seniors will be faced with a world of choices after leaving Tower Hill, the senior Winterim is based around individual choice in content that will arm them with tools to make sound decisions in the future.
Seniors have chosen their favorites from a course catalog offered by faculty and visiting experts including “Fake News:” Being Savvy about Numbers, the Media and Psychological Manipulation; Cooking; Budget/Credit; Sexual Health and Wellness; Intuitive Eating; Goal Setting/Vision Boards; and others. All seniors are required to take three sessions: Consent, Mental Health and “Failure is Coming.” In addition to longer sessions, we will offer “mini sessions” for students to quickly learn skills like changing a tire, registering to vote and voting by absentee ballot, and mindfulness practice.