By: Michael Johnson
Crowded lunch lines in the Lumen Center, folding chairs in the auditorium, and lines of cars in the lower lots have become more or less familiar sights as Gilman enters the 2017-2018 school year.
Indeed, Gilman has welcomed quite a few students to its ranks. As Mr. Rob Heubeck affirmed in the opening assembly, the Gilman Upper School houses more students than ever before. Four hundred and eighty four students walk the halls each day. Such a figure stands in stark contrast to Gilman’s enrollment only last year at four hundred and sixty six across the Upper School. What drives this immediate increase? Has Gilman made a conscious effort to include more students than in years past?
According to Admissions, no. As Director of Enrollment Mrs. Amy Furlong notes, “We had a very strong yield this year, meaning the number of boys that were extended offers exceeded the number that we thought would then accept us.” This spike in accepted students bodes well for Gilman; “[it] speaks volumes of what people think of Gilman, the program, and the faculty,” continues Mrs. Furlong. Nonetheless, “by no means was it intentional to be as large as we are.” Moreover, the unexpected size of 2017-2018 upper school is not a foreign situation. Furlong said, “We’ve been blessed two years in a row,” as just last year more students than forecasted accepted an invitation.
The growth in class size, however, does not extend to the Lower and Middle Schools. “Lower and Middle [School] are more consistent with what we have seen,” says Furlong. More students waiting until ninth grade to enroll in Gilman may play a part in the surge of students in the Gilman Upper School.
Although the average high-school size in the Maryland—1,161 students—vastly outnumbers Gilman’s spike in enrollment, our school has had to adjust to an influx in students. Besides the consequences noted above, the Upper School has felt the effects of nearly five hundred pupils in more discreet ways. First and foremost, individual class size. Upper School Head Mr. Heubeck describes, “I think some of the class sizes are probably larger than they use to be … a couple of classes have two or three more.”
Additionally, a bloated Upper School has a direct effect on tri-school scheduling. “It makes signing up for classes a little more difficult next year” says Heubeck, “especially with coordinated classes. As a home-school we get a certain number of spots for each coordinated class, and that pool now is getting larger.”
The consequences extend past the administration. More students means more mouths to feed for Flik, Gilman’s daily caterer. While the dedicated Flik staff can up their production, they do encounter some hiccups in the lumen center. Director of Dining Centers Ms. Celeste Collier notes, “As far as the amount of people, I know the population has increased over the year, I think when it comes to the time constraints of being late, a lot of boys will hit the pasta bar … It’s difficult to backfill it [because] it’s congested.” Indeed, the crowded lines have somewhat hindered “the functionality” of this aspect of the Flik operation.
While the Gilman staff and administration adapt to an ever-growing Gilman Upper-School, a larger upper school leaves unavoidable consequences.