With a student body of just over 2,700 students, Greenwich High School can feel intimidating to someone who has never gone there. However, the school has countless measures in place to make sure that nobody gets lost in the cracks and that each and every student feels a sense of belonging within the larger school community. This article is going to highlight some of the many ways that GHS makes a big school feel small.
Greenwich High School has a “house system,” where students are placed into one of five “houses.” Each of these houses has its own Dean, Social Worker, Attendance Office, and team of Guidance Counselors so that students can be supported by administrators who are not spread too thin. The Dean of my house knows all of her students by name! Also, every house has at least three guidance counselors. Each student is assigned to one guidance counselor who they will work with for all four years of high school. This provides amazing continuity for students when they choose courses every year, because their guidance counselor has gotten to know them and their specific courseload needs. It also makes it so that during the college process, the guidance counselors can write really meaningful letters of recommendation. This counselor is always a friendly face and is always there to be on the students’ side when it comes to any issues at school or at home.
Small Class Sizes and Extra Help
Even with a large student population, GHS class sizes do not reflect that at all. There are enough teachers, classrooms, and desks so that class sizes can be as small as 10 students. The most common class sizes will range from about 20-25 students. The classes are small enough for the teachers to get to know each of their students personally, and large enough to allow for lively group discussion and collaboration. Also, the hardest AP classes are often a bit smaller so that students can have a more personalized learning experience for those difficult subjects. Outside of the classroom, teachers dedicate their free blocks (“opens”) to extra help appointments with students. Many teachers also run drop-in extra help hours before school! If a student is unable to coordinate these times with their teachers, they are still able to get support. Each department at the school, from English, to Math, to Foreign Language, has a dedicated “learning center.” For every block of every day, these learning centers have an assigned teacher from its respective department. Any student, from any class, at any time, can walk into a learning center to get help from a teacher.
Simple School Layout
Many large buildings can take a long time to become familiar with, but GHS’s simple layout means that students can feel comfortable navigating the hallways from day one. The main building has four branches, each with two levels. The levels of each branch are labelled by names of the student “houses” mentioned earlier, and it’s simple: each house corresponds to a certain set of room numbers. “Bella” house has all of the 100’s, “Clark” house has all of the 200’s, and so on. As long as you know which house has which numbers, you’re all set! Every house is laid out like a circle so as long as you keep walking forward, you’ll get to your classroom eventually. There is another building, connected to the main building by a long hallway, that contains all of the science classrooms. It is equally as easy to navigate as all of the houses, and students travelling to and from the “science wing” are permitted an extra two minutes after the bell because of the long walk. Even if a student is not coming from the science wing, teachers are always very forgiving if students come in a minute or two after the bell, so there is no need to be worried about getting lost!
Another way that Greenwich High feels smaller than it actually is are what I like to call “academic niches.” This is the phenomenon where students with similar academic ability tend to be in classes with each other. For instance, students who take a lot of AP courses will tend to be in classes with the other hundred students who take a lot of AP courses. Students who prefer honors courses will usually end up with other students who take mostly honors courses. This makes it so that there are roughly the same faces in your classes through all four years. There is not a strict “honors” versus “AP” versus “regular” track for students to follow, but these types of class patterns often emerge on their own. Elective courses are still a great way to meet students who are not necessarily in the same “academic niche,” though!
While those are many ways that GHS makes its large size feel small, I also wanted to highlight some advantages of a larger school.
Clubs, Sports, and Activities
GHS boasts almost 100 clubs and 15 sports teams, and if a club does not exist students are encouraged to create their own. This makes it so that any student can find their place at the school. There is a friend group for any type of person, and overall much more diversity than a smaller school would provide. Every day, I get to meet someone new who can broaden my life’s perspective, while also being able to return to my group of friends who make me feel the most comfortable.
A large student body means that Greenwich High School can offer an almost unmatched variety of courses. There is cooking, swimming, sewing, theater, photography, entrepreneurship, personal finance, child development, and fashion, to name just a few. Greenwich High school also offers almost any AP that the College Board offers, in addition to math that goes all the way up to multivariable calculus, myriad English courses from medieval literature to short fiction, seven world languages, sciences like forensics or marine biology, and so many more. If a student is interested, there is most definitely a class for it. For a full list of all courses offered at the high school, feel free to browse the Greenwich High School course of study guide, linked here.
Author: Meredith Blanchard