In an email sent to the entire community, the school announced its plan to implement a schedule change beginning in the 2020-2021 school year, when current sophomores will be seniors. The most prominent change in this schedule is the introduction of the block periods, which will create 75-minute class periods to replace the current 45-minute classes.
As members of the sophomore class, this schedule will affect us the most out of all current upper school students. So, it is surprising that the New Schedule Committee does not contain students from the sophomore class or below.
Although the committee does have student representation, seniors and juniors will never actually experience the new schedule. The senior and junior classes have viewpoints that are essential to its configuration, but shouldn’t the grade that will experience the new schedule firsthand have a say as well? The new schedule does have many positives, but in order to truly understand what it means for our community, we must discuss its shortcomings as well as its benefits.
Even though there will be less daily homework, the free periods many students cherish will no longer exist. Free periods can be used for homework, but they are often times used socially, and without these time slots, students will no longer be able to branch out and make new friends. Furthermore, due to the school-wide lunch period, students will feel inclined to sit with the friends they are already comfortable with, making it even harder to diversify friend groups and strengthen the community as a whole.
In addition, a communal lunch period will make it even harder to get food. Due to a relatively small cafeteria, at some points in the day students have to wait ten to 15 minutes just to get their sandwich or a bowl of orange chicken from the cafeteria. With the whole school eating at once, it will be even harder to finish food before the start of class.
Many students also tend to use their lunch periods as opportunities to complete homework, yet the communal lunch period and communal meeting periods will mean that everybody is free at the same time. Thus, spaces such as the lounge, library and silent study where students would normally work will fill up and make it harder for students to get their work done at school.
Nevertheless, the addition of longer class periods will allow for students to study their material in further depth, become more engaged in the subject and simultaneously receive less homework because there will be less classes to prepare for each day. This decrease in homework time will, in turn, mitigate the stress of the typical student, allowing students to get more sleep and remain more focused during the school day.
With the current schedule, clubs meet during activities period on Monday or Wednesday depending on each week. Whereas students are somewhat boxed in due to the current schedule, the creation of a daily, 25-minute break period will allow clubs to meet on any day of the week, in addition to the 55-minute period on Day Five. Thus, students will be able to participate in and explore more clubs, allowing them to discover what they are truly interested in.
With all this being said, by the time the new schedule rolls around, we will be seniors, and the grade below us will be juniors. Both of our grades will have experienced the current schedule, and we will be tasked with adapting to the new.
We may struggle temporarily, but we know the administration and the New Schedule Committee has it all under control. For lower grades and future students, there will be no adjustment period and no old schedule – the new schedule will be all they know. If it improves their time here at Harvard-Westlake, then our momentary struggles will all be worth it.