Making the Switch to Trimesters
Vermont Academy will make the switch from semesters to trimesters beginning this fall. This decision, made after lengthy discussions at department and administrative levels, offers an array of new opportunities for our students.
"We are really excited about this change", says Academic Dean Fanning Hearon. "It opens up new possibilities for students to take advantage of VA's international program, and gives us a chance to offer more varied academic and arts options."
The 2012-2013 calendar will be divided by major breaks and seasons; fall trimester will run from the opening of school to Thanksgiving break, winter trimester from Thanksgiving to March break and spring trimester from the end of March break to graduation. Sports seasons will fall naturally into the trimester schedule.
This decision was driven by three primary factors. The first was balance. The Academy's current semester system was unbalanced with a 14-week fall semester and a 19 week spring semester which raised many questions about syllabi, assessments, length of semester courses in the fall versus the spring, and the offering of credits.
Secondly, traditionally the winter “term” at VA was an entity unto itself, with its own shortened daily schedule providing time for student athletes to participate in snow sports practices and competitions. The concept of “sticking with the seasons” will now afford the winter its own term.
Lastly, trimesters offer more opportunities for international off-campus programs for students, as well as more varied arts and elective offerings.
The growing and successful VA in Spain program is not currently coordinated with the semester schedule. In fact, the Spain program is now approximately eleven weeks in length, which is exactly equal to one trimester. For the present, students and teachers have found it difficult to leave school in the middle of a term. By moving to trimesters, planning for Spain (and other upcoming international programs) will be simpler and fairer to all parties when the calculation of grades and credits is taken into account.
The Academy's new Freshman Arts Program will also fall nicely into the trimester schedule. Incoming freshmen will be enrolled in this survey-type course offering a sampling of the artistic disciplines at Vermont Academy. Every freshman will spend one trimester each exploring studies in music, theater, and visual arts. This program is a long time vision of Head of School Sean Brennan's and is enthusiastically supported by the Vermont Academy Performing and Visual Arts departments.