Harvard-Westlake is committed to the academic, physical, social, and spiritual well-being of all of our students.
Harvard-Westlake offers an extensive physical education program, including a variety of team sports and individual activities such as swimming, yoga, choreography, and fencing. Our sports performance curriculum teaches students about weight training, fitness, nutrition, and other skills and habits to carry on throughout their lifetimes. HW’s Institute for Scholastic Sports Science & Medicine offers educational opportunities for students by promoting sports science research on campus and advancing athletic care and performance through such research.
The mission of the HW Sibs program is to support new students as they transition into our community, build collegiality among all grade levels, and provide a space to ensure that every student is known, heard, and supported. New middle school students are paired with eighth or ninth graders, and meet once per week for the first five weeks of school, and then once a month after that for the year. Students stay with their same HW Sibs leader for the duration of their time at the middle school. At HW Sibs meetings, students play games, interact among different grade levels, learn about new opportunities to get involved with clubs/sports/activities, and talk about life at HW in general.
R&R days occur once in each quarter of the school year at the middle school and provide students a chance to rest and recharge (R&R). Following R&R days, students have no homework due, and teachers will not give assessments. R&R days typically fall on long weekends.
Lifelab is a seminar course that expands on the middle school’s human development curriculum. Focusing on the process of adolescence rather than just the end result, this course explores identity, well-being, connection, flourishing, community, happiness, inclusion, good decision making, resilience, and relationships and intimacy. As students complete exercises and activities in class and online, they learn the social emotional competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. Although this is a pass/fail course, students are expected to attend class and participate in a positive, active way that is respectful of others. This course aims to disseminate clear, accurate information about sexuality, reproduction, birth control, communicable diseases, substance use/abuse, and sexual assault.
Peer Support is a program that allows Harvard-Westlake upper school students to seek out their peers whenever they are experiencing some frustration or problem. Students want to help each other, yet they often do not know how. Peer Support leaders are trained to provide assistance to their peers.
Being a member of the Peer Support program is an intimate social contract. It requires the commitment of time and of self. Led by a team of trained Peer Support leaders, small groups meet on Monday evenings to discuss whatever the group members have on their minds. The program is open to all upper school students and offers a safe atmosphere that encourages participation in group discussion about a variety of issues, from minor to serious.
Confidentiality is emphasized at every meeting, and the Student Leadership Coordinator meets with leaders during their training to discuss any red flag issues that are raised, including suicide, physical or sexual abuse, and danger to self or others. Leaders are required to remind group members on a weekly basis of their obligation to report. Peer Support leaders are selected on the basis of their leadership skills, emotional stability, empathy, ability to listen, and good judgment. As a result, we have been able to help students who were previously actively suicidal or on the brink of developing a serious drug or alcohol problem. Such early intervention has even resulted in the saving of lives.
Harvard-Westlake’s chaplain is available to support the needs of students and their families. Though she is always available to discuss matters of a spiritual nature, she is just as likely to be found on the bench at a sports event or at a student coffeehouse in Chalmers, all in an effort to support the Harvard-Westlake community.