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As part of Townsend Harris’s Bridge Year Program, all seniors are required to take a Humanities seminar at Queens College. Classes meet twice a week, but roughly once a month, students also attend a lecture.
Every semester, lectures replace three required senior meetings. Queens College professors come from multiple departments to provide students with a different perspective on the works they have been reading in class, ranging from the theater department to history.
Seniors have varied reactions to these lectures.
Senior Maria Averkiou finds them both helpful and interesting, saying, “The lectures have been very insightful.”
However several students have a more negative opinion concerning these lectures.
One senior, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “The lectures are extremely insufficient. The students in the back can’t even hear what the presenters are saying so they just talk amongst themselves. Some classes haven’t even read the book being discussed, and even if they did, they read it a couple of weeks ago.”
In regards to the level of helpfulness, the same student added, “I don’t think the lectures help us with our papers; I don’t really get a better understanding. The lectures are a waste of time for both the students and professors.”
One professor who gave lectures in previous years and wishes to remain anonymous, said, “They are helpful if given at a good time. They’re successsful in giving background information to the works, but sometimes the timing is off.”
Assistant Principal of Humanities Rafal Olechowski believes that these lectures are a “positive experience.” He discussed how fortunate the seniors at Townsend Harris are to be exposed to college lectures for free.
“I wish that as a high school student I had the opportunity to repeatedly taste a typical college lecture. There is no pressure, it is not the real deal, [students] just get to listen to see what it is like,” Mr. Olechowski commented.
These lectures are a chance to expose students to a real college experience, and although not every student may appreciate them, “it’s life; it is a growing pain to taste that,” said Mr. Olechowski.
English teacher Robert Babstock concluded, “If students pay attention then the [lectures] are good. You’re learning from experts.”