"Reap What You Sow" by Eric Lechpammer

EDITORIAL: New schedule needs refinements to reach potential

The biggest change this school year for all students and faculty is the revised schedule. Change is always nerve-wracking, and learning last May that a new schedule would be instituted was no exception. Now, the Octagon writes its second editorial about the change, this time focusing on the schedule itself. After experiencing it for almost two months, we decided that the new schedule has many kinks but much potential.

The biggest change, arguably, is dropping one class and having only five subject periods per day. According to scheduling committee chair Brooke Wells, this was intended to alleviate stress. But that isn’t the case for all as the dropped class can create an imbalanced week.

Many students have a free period and a free elective, meaning they can leave as early as 12:12 p.m. on some days, and students with two free periods can leave at 11:17 a.m. Such a relaxed schedule might not be what students and parents expect for Country Day’s high tuition.

Other students added a sixth academic class to their schedule after realizing the long stretch of time they would still have from 12:12 to 2:30 p.m. encompassing lunch, free elective and flex even without a standard free period.

There is a fine line between decreasing stress by adding more free time for students and causing students to feel they aren’t learning enough at school due to too much free time.

On the other hand, days can feel cramped when students’ free periods are dropped. The problem is partially alleviated by the dropped class’s placement at the beginning of the following day, but the change still fosters stress for students who have to go to bed without finishing their work or staying up until completion.

The promising idea of flex period as a time for students to ask teachers for help and meet with clubs and for music groups to use for extra practice time has not lived up to expectations.

Although dean of student life Patricia Jacobsen and Wells said in the May issue of the Octagon a calendar would be created to “book” certain flex periods, students have often been double-booked during a flex period.

From AP Physics C labs to club meetings to extra elective time, some students are booked for flex every day, leaving no time for its original purpose — for students to work, relax or talk to teachers.

A flex calendar was added to CavNet on Oct. 11, so this issue hopefully will be fixed now that students can see events happening during flex and put club meetings on the calendar by talking with Valerie Velo, assistant to the head of high school.

The student voices that led to the flex calendar’s implementation should be sought in the coming weeks to fine-tune the schedule. 

Instead of teachers giving secondhand feedback based on listening to students in class, faculty and students should be communicating openly together.

Having open communication lines from the start could have cleared up many questions, such as why the schedule rotates backward now. While placing the class dropped one day first the next day lessens large gaps without certain classes, it doesn’t fix all problems posed by dropping one class per day.

Besides initial concerns about the lack of repetition needed for math and language, students have noticed dropping a class can promote procrastination.

For example, if a reading homework is assigned the day before a class is dropped, students might wait until the day before it is due so they can keep the information fresh in their minds for a discussion or quiz.

However, teachers have mostly respected the agreement not to assign homework due on a day when the class doesn’t meet or twice the amount of homework the day before a dropped class. 

Unfortunately, teachers have been cheating the passing periods by starting class early and ending late, which is somewhat understandable due to the lack of a high school bell system.

While the passing periods have been effective in allowing students time to use their lockers, there often isn’t enough time to use the bathroom — especially if a teacher starts or ends a class early. 

A time crunch is also noticeable during morning break, which morning meeting often monopolizes, leaving no time to eat or talk with friends and teachers, defeating the purpose of having a break.

Six minutes of the day are wasted by the unnecessary passing periods from lunch to elective and from last period to dismissal. Adding that time to break or extending the passing periods between actual classes would be an easy fix.

With all that said, these student opinions shouldn’t be represented solely in the Octagon. To utilize the schedule to its potential, the scheduling committee needs to seek out our opinions on improvements.

Originally published in the Oct. 15 edition of the Octagon.

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