Community / Opinion

Why X Blocks?

1:05 is a good time for a nap. But this is also the time when X-blocks normally take place, and it can be hard for some people to stay focused. Since it is not a course, why does the school dedicate so much time and effort to these lectures? I mean, why don’t we simply make the block a free period for everyone?

Well, as students, our well-being is critical to academic and overall success. For that reason, many of the X-blocks in the past years have been related to health and wellness topics. I wanted to learn more, so I interviewed John Suby, Director of Athletics, Health and Wellness at Dana Hall School, and Margie Bailey, Shipley Center Program Coordinator. According to Mr. Suby, we started having X-block speakers about fifteen years ago. “The Health and Wellness Committee meets weekly, and we plan X-blocks every year with a focus on different social-emotional issues,” Mr. Suby said. The goal of having these X-blocks with outside speakers and facilitators is to encourage self-empowerment among the student body to facilitate decision making. Mr. Suby also mentions that “the school committed to giving H&W three X-blocks a year and Ship Day, which is solely dedicated on topics of H&W.” It is clear that the school pays close attention to Health and Wellness programs with the goal of ensuring that every Dana student will learn the tools and knowledge needed to live and thrive.

When being asked about how decisions are made regarding who to invite and what topic should be covered, Ms. Bailey described the process in steps: “first, people in and outside of the Health and Wellness Committee would give us ideas, and we funnel the information to the committee. Then, the Committee members decide the topics they want and find speakers for the topics.” As a student, I was shocked to see the amount of effort and time put into planning and organizing for each X-block and the wide range of community members involved in the process. I learned that before inviting a speaker for an X-block, the Health and Wellness Committee would research to see if he or she lectured in other schools or colleges. They would call other schools for feedback or even attend the lectures themselves for a more precise evaluation. It is also important to note that the school tries to cycle the topics with speakers so that students won’t be having the same person come in twice in their years at Dana Hall or the same topics two years in a row. Additionally, the school also organizes meetings with the speaker before their X-block lectures to discuss and maximize the learning experience for the community.

At the end of our interview, Ms. Bailey and Mr. Suby both nodded in agreement that X-block speakers play a crucial role in bringing positive impacts and raising awareness for mental health issues at Dana Hall. Along with a variety of other programs such as Forum classes, Ship Day panels, and other collaborative events, the Health and Wellness program truly strives to make a difference on behalf of all members of the Dana Hall Community.

So next time you go to Waldo for an X-block, wake up your mind for 45 minutes. You will never realize how thankful you might be in 10 years for having a program like this.


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