Jump Starting the New Year with J-Term

Dance party

Entering high school comes with a whole host of opportunities and challenges. Add to that a year of online learning, there’s bound to be some things that are missed. Enter J-Term.

“One of the goals of J-Term is set up the 9th graders to be successful for their Upper School year and beyond,” said Shea Fleming, Assistant Director of Diversity and Inclusion.

J-Term serves as an opportunity for a refresher period for freshmen on the support systems they have access to. Overlake has always championed self-advocacy and responsibility and J-Term serves as a time to help train students to advocate for themselves.

Things like the guidance counselors, learning specialists, and even office hours are resources that many juniors and seniors utilize to find success at Overlake and freshmen are just beginning to learn to take it upon themselves to seek these out. It also served as a small time in between semesters for the students to slow down and spend time together as a class and homerooms bonding as a group.  

Krishna Davda, Assistant Head of Upper School, thinks of it an “Orientation 2.0,” but now with a semester of context to look back on. “My hope is that students are able to contextualize how they best learn, how and when to seek support, so they continue to move towards independence.”

“They’re the youngest in US and need support in a different kind of way. Also, the last time our current 9th grade class experienced a full year of school was when they were in 6th grade,” Fleming said.

This is the second year Overlake has held  J-Term for the freshmen class. With a year of online learning for last year's freshman class, the freshmen advisors realized there were gaps in their learning. As a result they devised a way to help guide and empower freshmen to take more ownership of their education.

Over the course of the two day long experience, students attended several workshops addressing a wide range of topics focused around the student’s well-being. These included forming healthy friendships, time management and prioritizing, stress management, utilizing Canvas, and digital citizenship.

When they were not in workshops there were several opportunities for students to connect with their class in a more relaxed setting. Some students sang karaoke with Erin Gabriel while others played board games. There was also extended time together with their homerooms to brainstorm a project that demonstrated spirit, connection, and creativity. All the projects were shared at the end of day two.

“I hope that students will enjoy connecting with their classmates, have some time to slow down and rejuvenate, and get organized to be ready to start semester two,” Fleming shared.