Choosing Between EHS and SES

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Cora Heinzen, Features Writer

For sophomores, the deadline to change schools to the School of Environmental Studies is coming up quickly. There are many differences between EHS and SES, so the decision to pick one can be intimidating. While you can attend both schools at once, it is suggested you only do that for classes you really love.

SES has some terms and basic info that you will definitely need to know if you decide to go. There are 4 houses; blue and rose for juniors, and gold and green for seniors. In each house there are around 4 teachers and 100 students. In each house there is a centrum and lots of pods. The centrum is the middle area with lots of desks and projectors. You will usually start the morning in the centrum with all of your fellow classmates. The pods are a cluster of around 12 desks on the edge of the centrum. Desks are often decorated to the student’s taste, and the students are allowed to have a pet. Generally this pet is either a fish or a gecko, though there are some snakes.

The schedule is also very different from Eagan, as there are 4 “blocks” during the day. House period lasts for 2 blocks, while the different houses vary on the order. House is made up of rotations between the house teachers, generally combining the different subjects (english, science and history) to help students learn whatever unit their working on. There are two blocks after or before house, each about an hour and a half each. However, the classes switch every other day. The two different schedules are called Earth and Sky day.

Intensive theme is seven days that students stop all of their normal classes and focus on a single class, once each trimester. There are art classes, animal behavior/care classes, phy ed, poetry classes, science classes, and many more. Intensive themes can also involve going on trips to places like New Zealand, Roatan, India, and Florida. Another important part of attending SES is journaling. In house, you will have one journal for english, science, and history that you will take all of your notes in. Now that you know the basic info, let’s get into some differences.

The main difference between SES and EHS is the amount of writing. You generally are writing at least one paper a week, but as EHS Junior Maddie Jurisch says, “I think it’s better than taking multiple choice tests because I feel like it tests my knowledge more.” Teachers are always willing to help, as they want to build relationships with students and learn your strengths and weaknesses as an individual.

Students have found that there is a lot of respect and trust shown between the students and the teachers. For example, any time of the year students want, they can eat lunch outside. The students are trusted to behave well when there are no adults around, as well as while driving between the schools and the zoo. Just this last week, Blue House went to the zoo to do an activity on evolution.

Julia McLagan points out that there are no finals at SES, which reduces stress levels at the end of the tri. Generally there will be a big project due, but students will have to work on it for weeks, or even a couple months. McLagan also mentioned that she thought SES was friendlier, and very welcoming. However, there is not much mixing between classes, because of the different houses. The two junior houses do not have lunch together (nor do the two senior houses), and often the only time to see friends from different houses is before or after school.

AP classes are more difficult, not so much because of the content but because of the way they operate. If you take an AP class, you will be pulled out of house to go to that class. In those AP classes, you will be given homework and will often be expected to make up whatever you missed in house. However, sometimes teachers will excuse the students. AP classes meet 2-3 times a week, and so you will be expected to do a lot of work outside of class.

All in all, EHS and SES have a lot of differences. If you are considering SES, try it out! Students can always switch back to EHS sometime within the first 30 days, or at the end of the tri. Keep in mind that you will have to apply, which will involve answering a couple essay questions. If more people apply than the school can accept, there is a waiting list that students will be put on. If you would like to get a feel of the community, check out upcoming events, visit the school, or talk to a friend who goes there.