Students will be required to completely block periods four, five, six or seven starting next year in an effort by the school to make sure students will be able to eat lunch during frees in the middle of the day.
“Culturally, this signals a shift toward trying to find a new center of balance for students,” Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts said.
The change in the scheduling process was discussed within the Faculty Advisory Council, and although it was not approved by FAC, a majority of faculty and administrators decided to implement the change due to its benefits, Huybrechts said.
“There was no approval process per se. The school has decided to attempt to give every student at the school a dedicated midday block of time in order to have lunch and to socialize,” Huybrechts said.
With the new online scheduling system, students are allowed to sign up for only seven full classes. Because each student is required to take five academic classes that meet four times per cycle, students will only be permitted to take elective classes during two periods of the day. The only exceptions to this rule are classes that meet two periods a cycle, Dean Beth Slattery said. Students who have signed up for more than seven classes will have to drop extra classes. Slattery said this only applies to approximately 10 to 15 students so far.
“We don’t know how challenging things are going to be,” Slattery said. “We are hopeful because when we did the simulation of how everything would work if this year the upper school students would have all had to have a lunch period, it actually didn’t negatively impact very many people in terms of having people either drop something or move something around.”
Classes that students might have to drop in order to fulfill the midday block requirement include Directed Studies in Italian, German, Greek, Technical Theatre and other classes that do not meetmore than once during the five day cycle.
Ava Gordon ’16 is currently enrolled in Directed Study: Beginning Italian Language and Culture, which meets two periods every cycle, and although she plans to take the next level of Italian offered next year, she takes issue with the new schedule change.
“It just sucks that we have to cut down classes we want to take in favor of a midday lunch period,” Gordon said. “I would much rather just have a later day free so I could leave campus. Also, I couldn’t take all the classes I wanted this year, and that’s very annoying. They weren’t offered sophomore year, I was too busy junior year, and when I finally have the opportunity to take classes I want as a senior, I’m not allowed to.”
Although the change in the scheduling procedure will require that some students take fewer classes, Slattery believes that the change is necessary to relieve stress and help students have more manageable schedules.
“I understand that for a small number of people this will impact them, but the truth of the matter is that if we are talking about the new mission statement and joyful learning and reducing stress, which everyone constantly talks to us about, and the workload study talked about, you can’t have it both ways and say, ‘We want you to make it less stressful,’ and when the school tries to force everyone to take a break say, ‘You can’t make us take a break,’” Slattery said.
While the addition of a lunch period was being proposed, deans and schedulers looked at each student’s schedule during the last year to determine how many students would be forced to drop a class due to this rule, Slattery said. Their finding was that only two students would be forced to drop a class because they had classes that did not have any other sections during the day.
“I would rather be helpful to the larger group of people, and maybe have a small number of people feel that they didn’t get to take every class they wanted,” Slattery said. “But as it is, there are plenty of kids that feel like the seven-class limit limits them.”
In order to allow students to fulfill their Physical Education requirement and continue to take seven academic classes, the Athletic Department is planning to offer P.E. courses before and after school.
After the schedules of the students have been confirmed, the administration will determine whether these classes will be offered based on how many students will need to take them due to changes in their schedule, Huybrechts said. Athletes who play sports that require them to leave campus for practice, such as tennis and baseball, may be allowed to have their only block period later in the day to allow them to take seven classes as well.
To provide transportation for students who may take P.E. courses before or after school, busses may run at earlier and later times depending on the number of students who would need to arrive on campus earlier or leave later. It is also likely that students who take a physical education class after school can take later busses which are already offered, Slattery said.
Additionally, the administration will determine whether more food will need to be offered each period in order to accommodate a greater number of students after they have determined how many students will be free each period.
“Once we know how many students will have a free period during each of those four blocks, we will make some decision about additional food service because we will want to make it possible for students to be able to eat during their lunch period,” Huybrechts said.
Students’ schedules will not be finalized until the end of April.