Cookies and milk, boys wearing suits, and bells ringing between classes… These are just a few of the many differences between Winsor and Belmont Hill. On April 18, we, two executives of The Banner, were fortunate to partake in the annual Switch Day with Belmont Hill’s The Panel. Our hosts were Panel executives Mac Bobo ’23, David Cho ’23, Alex Lo ’23, and Cooper Nelson ’23.
Bright and early at 8:00 am, we were welcomed into a brief advisory meeting, where students recounted the events of their weekends and lamented about upcoming homework assignments. This meeting, while brief, proved an engaging way to start our day by connecting with friends.
One immediate difference we noticed between Belmont Hill and Winsor is the presence of school uniforms. At Belmont Hill, all students must wear a suit, tie, and dress pants. Winsor, on the other hand, does not require a uniform and has a less formal dress code. We personally prefer the freedom to dress how we choose, but we also understand that a uniform can put you into the mindset to study and work hard, and we greatly respect Belmont Hill’s commitment to this tradition.
Another notable difference was the 45-minute class blocks, which are 30 minutes shorter than classes at Winsor. Furthermore, a bell ringing over the loudspeaker marks the end of each class and the start of passing time, whereas Winsor students come and go as their teachers dismiss them. The bell seemed a bit like High School Musical at first, but as the day went on, we began to appreciate the bell ringing at the official ends and beginnings of different classes.
Next up, we traveled to our hosts’ math class, which was Multivariable Calculus. Mr. Feldman, the teacher, guided us on an exploration of the different math courses we could take in college.
Afterward, we had cookies and milk, a Belmont Hill daily tradition in which students gather outside to feast on, you guessed it, cookies and milk. As dessert doesn’t happen quite as frequently at Winsor, we were delighted that Belmont Hill incorporated a sweets-based community time into the schedule every day.
We continued our day with an impromptu tour of the school. The most obvious difference between the campuses of our two schools is that Belmont Hill consists of multiple buildings that are spread out from one another—that’s right, we had to walk outside to get to different classes! Coming from Winsor, where we can spend the whole day without ever leaving the building, we couldn’t decide if it was nice to get some fresh air or simply too cold. Regardless, it was an exciting change. We also stopped by their Innovation Lab, home of a Vex robotics team headed to the World Championship, music rooms, the chapel, and the library, where we caught up with Panel advisor Mr. Hegarty during his class on immigration.
The day continued with Panel Carving, a Belmont Hill tradition. Each year, every senior individually carves a wooden panel to commemorate the end of their time there. Walking through the school, you can see hundreds of panels on the walls, as every student’s panel is displayed. At Winsor, one similar tradition is that the sophomores create banners for the seniors, but the entire sophomore class collaborates with making one banner, and the banners are only displayed during reunions for classes with the greatest donations. We did have to leave panel carving due to a promotional video being shot, so we instead wandered into a nearby ceramics class (taught by Winsor alum Ms. Bradley!), where we learned about different wheel-throwing techniques.
Next up was Greek, where students took turns translating lines. The classroom had an innovative Smartboard that students could both project their computer screen and use their fingers to draw on the board. It was interesting to see everyone engage with a different technology from the whiteboards we use at Winsor. Dr. Davis, the Greek teacher, commented that his course takes students from “zero [knowledge] to reading Homer” in just one year. The class collaborated on several activities, including translating lines and “scanning” lines for syllables. We noticed that Belmont Hill teachers tended to engage their students with cold-calling, while at Winsor, this practice is uncommon and students instead opt to participate themselves.
For lunch, we had chicken shawarma, rice, salad, hummus, falafel, and lemon bars, which we grabbed from the cafeteria before heading to the Alumni House. The food was delicious, and we were decidedly jealous that Belmont Hill students get to experience dessert not just once, but twice a day.
Next period, we sat in on an English elective titled “God, Mythology, Humanity,” where we had a group discussion. We enjoyed how the classroom was set up around one table, as it allowed everyone to participate with more ease. The discussion was led by the teacher, Mr. Leonardis, with many student contributions, and we ended the class by talking about our excitement and worries about heading off to college.
Last period was Economics, where we learned and watched videos about economic development in sub-Saharan Africa. Nelson described this class as a place for them to learn about “solving problems.” The students examined many real-life case studies to learn about issues such as hyperinflation, corruption, and the lack of coordination among NGOs. One interesting difference is that this classroom had hand fidget tools for students to squeeze to help them focus during class.
Overall, our day at Belmont Hill was engaging, informative, and a unique window into one day in the life of one of Winsor’s brother schools. We thank Belmont Hill’s newspaper staff for hosting us and look forward to continuing this tradition in the future.