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What Does an Average Upper School Day Look Like? A Sophomore Perspective

By Natalie ’24

Welcome to a day in the life of a Harvard-Westlake Upper School student! Although everyone’s activities and schedules differ, I hope that this can provide some insight into what an average day at HW looks like. 

5:50 a.m. Waking up: This is a bit of an optimistic estimate. To be honest, most days I completely forget to set an alarm or sleep through the one I do set. However, on the days I’m a little more put together, this is when I wake up.

6:45 a.m. Getting on the bus: I live pretty far from the Upper School (about an hour commute), so I have to be at my bus stop an hour and fifteen minutes before school starts. However, on Late Start days (which occur once every six school days), I don’t have to be at my stop until 8:15.

8:00 a.m. First class: Due to the Upper School’s rotating block schedule, my first class varies. Each block is 75 minutes to allow for in-depth learning for a more sustained period of time. My favorite class to have in the morning is an arts elective, Intro to Costume Design. I would highly recommend taking it. You learn about aspects of theater and design that you would otherwise overlook. Additionally, the classroom in which the class is taught has the coolest and most terrifying see-through cross-hatched floor. It creaks kinda menacingly every time you walk across it, but I promise you won’t fall through. 

9:15 a.m. BREAK! Since the break is only 20 minutes, I usually just catch up with a couple friends and grab a quick snack. 

9:40 a.m. Second class of the day: If I have Intro to Costume Design during the first block of my schedule, then I will have Honors Chemistry during the second block. While Honors Chemistry is definitely a challenging course, both of the teachers are absolutely amazing. They’re willing to meet you halfway, answering as many emails as necessary and meeting with you as many times as you need for your success.

10:55 a.m. Lunch! My favorite part of the day. The Upper School has two cafeterias, a snack bar, and a sandwich shop to grab a quick bite at. I personally recommend orange chicken, anything with rice noodles, chicken tenders (but only the ones with the right type of breading- iykyk), the brown butter rice crispy treats, caramel cookies, and the smoothies. Quick tip: get your smoothies at the sandwich bar. Those are the best 🙂

11:45 a.m. Third class of the day: The Rise of the Modern World. This is the history class most sophomores take. Each history teacher has their own method of teaching, but no matter who ends up as your teacher, you are guaranteed an interesting and thought-provoking class. This course does not deal strictly in dates and facts. Rather, it analyzes the international connections and emerging philosophies that catalyze historical events. 

1:00 p.m. Conference Time: If a test or essay is approaching, I usually meet with my teacher to ask some clarification questions or talk to the learning center specialist to look over my paper during this time. Otherwise, I’ll hang out with some friends and try to finish some homework. 

1:45 p.m. Last class of the day: English. Personally, I consider English one of the more challenging sophomore courses. However, both the English department and the Learning Center specialists are more than open to helping you outline your papers or prepare for in-class essays.

3:00 p.m. School’s over! For about 15 or so minutes, everyone fills up the Quad, waiting for the early bus or for their extracurricular to start. I usually talk to my friends and grab a snack from the cafeteria, taking a break before either walking to the early bus or going to the Chalmers, the math building, for robotics.

3:20 p.m. Robotics: Harvard-Westlake has an amazing robotics program. I hadn’t done robotics prior to freshman year, but even during the pandemic, Harvard-Westlake sent my team an extensive robotics kit to help us start building. In-person, everyone is incredibly supportive and helpful. 

6:15 p.m. Late bus time: Harvard-Westlake has two bus schedules. One leaves the Upper School at 3:20 p.m., while the other departs at 6:15 p.m. You can pick the one that works better for you. 

7:00 p.m. Finally home! Time for homework. 

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Tags: , , , Last modified: December 6, 2021