Adjusted Advisory

Advisory moves to only Wednesdays to accommodate hybrid schedule

The smiling faces of Freshman Mentors (FMPs) greet Medha Mamidipaka ’24 as she logs onto Zoom for advisory. during her lunch period. Throughout the period, the mentors and supervising counselor provide Mamidipaka and her fellow freshmen a few pieces of useful information about various school resources and then play a game — today’s being Pictionary — before dismissing everyone for lunch. 

During a typical school year, Mamidipaka and her classmates would have been in actual classrooms, spending this period following their FMPs on mini tours of the school’s various facilities, learning more about the school and personally connecting with both their mentors and their classmates. Stevenson’s new hybrid model has made it so that advisory can only be held on Wednesdays during weeks with remote days, though it will last a full forty minute period. While the schedule for advisory has changed, the content will be more or less the same, with the first half of each session being presentation based and the second half being games and activities.

“I feel like online advisory is useful to an extent, especially when they [FMPs] talk about school-related things,” Mamidipaka said. “As far as making friends goes, though, we [Mamidipaka and her classmates] aren’t really able to talk that much because the Zoom environment makes things feel kind of impersonal, so I think it’s fine that it’ll only be one day.”

Although the program has been adapted to a virtual format, many feel as though it isn’t quite the same. FMP Coordinator Zara Dittman shares Mamidipaka’s sentiments regarding the limitations of advisory over Zoom, particularly in regards to mentors’ ability to connect with freshmen.

“There’s something very powerful about being in the room with freshmen, reading the room, and being able to have those little conversations that just aren’t broadcasted onto Zoom,” Dittman said. “So, while I’m proud of how our mentors have adjusted, I absolutely prefer to have the ability to connect with freshmen in person. Since that wasn’t an option this year, I’m impressed with all they have done to build community in the virtual advisory world.”

Advisory has been shifted to meet just on Wednesdays, but FMP Ruby Demichele ’21 seems to think that it will still be an improvement from the monotony of the online format. The new Wednesday-only advisory marks a definite shift from what most Stevenson students have come to associate with FMP, with counselors replacing faculty members as supervisors and an equal focus on delivering important information, though there will still be games and fun activities.

“Since it’s going to be mostly just required information from deans or counselors, I think we’ll be able to make better use of our time together and make sure our activities all actually have a purpose,” Demichele said.

Dittman, too, finds that because of the circumstances of remote learning, extracurriculars have been forced to pick and choose their most important aspects — what Dittman calls the “essence” of their programs and curriculums — and FMP has been no exception.

This is the first time advisory, which has historically been four days per week, has been limited to a single day. Despite the unfamiliarity of this, though, Mamidipaka, like Demichele, thinks that the hyper-focused, single day advisory will allow for a better utilization of the time freshmen and mentors have together. 

“Even if it’s not in-person or anything, I think that a single day of advisory won’t be a downgrade because I still feel like we’ll be getting a lot out of it,” Mamidipaka said.