The new schedule changes to be implemented next school year will give students more time with their teachers at the expense of less time with their families and friends, which are the relationships that suffer most at a school as demanding as Harvard-Westlake.
More school days means more classes to learn the information, something that could potentially benefit students struggling with fast-paced courses. But extra teaching days inevitably invite teachers to cram more in instead of encouraging them to stretch the same amount over a longer period of time. It also seems like the new schedule revolves almost entirely around AP classes, which gives little consideration to the many students who arenât taking any. And when the expansion requires sacrificing days of vacation that could be spent reconnecting with people or simply relaxing, itâs not worth it, especially when the system in place has worked for years â over 90 percent of the 514 students taking AP tests last year scored a three or above.
With the new schedule, school starts a week and a half earlier, on the last Monday in August, but graduation remains in June. The schedule calls for midterms three days after winter break, entirely eliminates semester break and would likely get rid of the two week hiatus for upperclassmen after APs.
By pushing midterms up to a mere three days after winter break, how many kids will actually get to unwind and relax over the vacation? Students will be too concerned with midterms, and this effectively reduces winter break to a work period. Three days does not provide enough time to adequately prepare for multiple comprehensive exams, and the vast majority of students will end up studying alone in their rooms. If the new schedule calls for midterms to be moved to a different time, midterms before winter break might have been a better option as it would have provided for a burden-free vacation.
The abolition of semester break goes even further. Semester break was a reward to students after months of hard work; many people used the four day weekend as a chance to go skiing with relatives or catch up with friends. But now itâs gone, taking with it another opportunity for reunions or just pure rest. Instead, students move straight into the second round, hardly getting a chance to catch their breath. The same thing will happen when the AP students
go immediately to finals â there is no passing Go, no collecting $200. All the breaks have disappeared. The only added day off would create a single long weekend in October, and while one day is better than none, it doesnât allow students to truly take any time off, and this extended weekend is still only a possibility, according to an e-mail sent by Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts to the faculty.
The goal of the schedule changes is to slow things down by giving students more time to absorb and process information. But without any prolonged respites, school days will just come faster, the school year will just seem longer and friends will see less of each other than they already do. In attempting to solve problems where there arenât any, the new
schedule actually creates new difficulties that detract too much from the planned benefits, rendering the schedule incapable of fixing the school at all.