Fifth period homeroom focuses on student well-being

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Photo used with permission from Google Commons

Students offer mixed feelings about the school’s use of fifth period during distance learning.

Jason Asvestopoulos, Staff writer

This year the administration, led by Principal Kim Boldon and Assistant Principals Nick Hitchens and Christy Rice, scheduled fifth period homeroom meetings twice a week to focus on students’ mental health and well-being.

The meetings happen every Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., and they consist of slide presentations made by the administrators. Teachers have been assigned a group of students based on alphabetical order and grade, and they are the ones leading discussions during homeroom about the information on the slides. During those times, teachers have the opportunity to go over important information about events during the week (if there are any), or take the time to connect with students and discuss the group questions that are on the slides.

Boldon is a key component to making this homeroom time possible. According to Bethesda Magazine, she started her career at Wootton in 2000, left for Richard Montgomery in 2004 and came back to Wootton in 2007 as an English resource teacher. In 2012 she became an assistant principal and has stayed as a part of the school’s administration ever since.

I try to be active and engaged in all parts of the school community.”

— Kim Boldon

The topic of mental health is important for Boldon, based on her personal journey. Boldon said that growing up she lost one of her closest friends to a suicide attempt, so she has been focused on quite some time on improving the mental health of those around her. “I try to be active and engaged in all parts of the school community,” Boldon said.

Boldon, Hitchens and Rice discussed having a social and emotional space, and Boldon specifically wants students to know they have a trusted adult at school, so they established the homeroom period in hopes of achieving those goals. She also hopes that, through homeroom, students will be able to connect with teachers outside of academic life. It is not only those three who have influenced the slides presented to students twice a week. Boldon has gotten together with administrators from other MCPS schools, and said that she has gotten some great ideas from them to show in these presentations.

Despite some drawbacks, Boldon and the rest of the administrative staff have no intention of completely stopping this time to focus on mental health. Boldon is offering willingness to support ways to make it better, and is interested in data to find the best option. According to her, over 1,500 responses have been submitted on a student survey, most of which gave positive feedback.

Some students think that an alternative version of homeroom will suit them even better. “They should only be mandatory when important information needs to be disseminated; otherwise, when it is just to simply say hi, many students feel that time could be better spent elsewhere,” senior Jeremy Ullman said.

Since homeroom begins at 9 a.m., other students have expressed a preference to use their time otherwise. “Homeroom takes away from time that could be used for academics or sleeping in until sixth period starts,” senior Ryan Jayner said.