Ladue Implements New Seminar System


Rhea Kaw

Sophomore Jaelyn Lever opens up responsive scheduling in infinite campus. She has chosen her classes for the next seminar, but logged on to confirm. "I like seminar because it allows me to finish my work ahead of time," Lever said. "Seminar helps contribute to less stress."

For the 2019-20 school year, Ladue Horton Watkins High School has adjusted the seminar rules in order to improve student safety, increase purposefulness and incorporate de-stressing activities. 

At Ladue, seminar utilizes a structured amount of time for students to get help from teachers and complete homework. There are three L’s in a seminar period, each twenty minutes, in which students are not allowed to leave their classes, but are permitted to travel in the passing periods. Seminar at Ladue has endured many changes over the years and 2019 has also seen differences in the rules. 

“This year, students are asked to sign up in advance for seminar, so [students] have a five day window prior to every seminar to pick where it is [they] want to go. [They] have until midnight the night before to change their selection,” ninth grade principal, Jessica Bitting said. “[Students] are preprogrammed to where [they] need to go so teachers can take attendance and know where students are.”

The modifications first started with the formation of a committee of teachers who oversaw possible adjustments to the bell times, seminar schedule and ways to track students throughout the school. Security of the students, however, was the foremost reason for change.

“I think the biggest component was safety. That is something that people are very concerned about in schools,” English teacher Jennifer Hartigan said. “We looked at it and realized there was a seventy minute period where we could not account for everybody in the building.” 

While student safety remains the most critical aspect of the change in seminar, other reasons, such as making seminar more productive were also a factor. With seminar responsive scheduling embedded into infinite campus, students must begin to think ahead of time and start planning for future seminars. 

“I think that [the new seminar rules] keep me on track and don’t allow me go to classes [that] I don’t really need,” Sophomore Matthew Kweon said. “It allows me to think ahead to what I really want instead of just thinking in the moment.”

Another important goal for seminar was to allow students more time to relax. This relief tactic is called social, emotional and behavioral support which aims to help students relieve anxiety and stress. 

“[Seminar] allows us to build in social and emotional support,” Bitting Said. “Over the course of the year we’ve been working with teachers that lead clubs or other activities to incorporate things like yoga in the commons, walks outside on the track or destress type [of activities], like therapy dogs or coloring.”

Overall, teachers, students and administrators have all put in a collective effort to not just change, but improve seminar in order to make the most of the given time. Whether its finishing homework, meeting with your teacher or getting in a quick break, seminar can serve each individuals needs.

[Seminar] allows us to get work done, to get the help we need, to be able to work in groups and access  technology,” Hartigan said. “I think it’s very important to being able to do well.”

Watch this video for more about responsive scheduling.