Developing the Viper Culture with Freshmen Advisory


Matt Lees

The Stevenson high school main hall where students are greeted.

Gabby Comer, Editor-in-Chief

Last month, a group of staff and teachers took a trip to Stevenson High school in Chicago, Illinois. I interviewed Mrs. Breitwieser, the Language and Composition teacher and a vice-principal here at Verrado. Her biggest takeaway from the school was their focus on leadership. 

She detailed this program, where the seniors mentor the freshmen. “It sets the culture of the school.” It is their equivalent of freshmen advisory, but it is student-run. This helps contribute to the culture where “people loved their school.” The students felt like it was “their place,” and she wanted Verrado to create more student leadership, so our students could feel the same.  

She also noticed that there were a lot of purposeful student hangout spots. For example, there is a coffee shop where students can get coffee and study. She said they are “out in the open,” and the spaces are “utilized.” This encourages students not to go into hiding because there are designated areas where they can openly hang out together.

Going there confirmed some of her “hunches” about evidence-based grading, a grading system that considers the product of a student with the standard. We are doing evidence-based grading next year at Verrado. “It was good to see how evidence-based grading is supposed to work.”  She hopes that this school will help us “build a good foundation.”  

After visiting the school, Mrs. Breitwieser is optimistic about the future of Verrado, and she hopes we can use this school for guidance to lead Verrado into a great future!