Challenging Success

Param Desagani

From a high school student’s perspective, the definition of success typically includes achieving the highest possible GPA, taking numerous AP courses, thriving in extracurricular activities, and ultimately gaining acceptance into a prestigious university. 

The Challenge Success partnership implemented at Sage during the 2019-2020 school year redefines success in a way that is tailored to each individual student. The objective is to show students that there is no one set model of success. 

An increase in mental and emotional health issues among students led Madeline Levine, Ph.D., Jim Lobdell, M.A., and Denise Pope, Ph.D. to found the program so schools can collect meaningful student data through a survey. The survey is then used to improve support for student wellness and increase student engagement in learning. The program has already been implemented in over 500 US schools and offers both parent and faculty workshops to help support student development and engagement.   

In October, Sage Hill School’s students were asked to complete the 30-40 minute survey, which included questions regarding academic coursework, grades, sleep habits, and even academic dishonesty. The data was then reviewed to observe possible correlations between student coursework, extracurriculars, and stress levels. 

In a recent interview with Dr. Balossi, Dean of Faculty and Curriculum at Sage, he shared an overview of survey data, which revealed that at the time of the survey most students at Sage slept 6.7 hours a night and on average students dedicated three hours to homework each day. In addition, the data showed that students were committed to about 8.5 hours of extracurricular activities during the school week, not including SAT or ACT test preparation. 

In the foreseeable future, Dr. Balossi hopes the results of this survey will help the school create an environment in which students are more engaged with their teachers, schoolwork, and learning process. 

“Engagement is crucial to student development and that to achieve such engagement, assignments and involvement in extracurriculars must be meaningful and student centered,” he said.

Additionally, with the support of the Challenge Success program and the presence of advisors, dedicated teachers, and supportive staff, Sage Hill hopes to exercise more often the existing positive values such as  discovery, integrity, and creativity, which will allow them to achieve personal success and gain self-efficacy while maintaining a healthy, well-balanced life.