Opinions on the Proposed Schedule Change

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Opinions on the Proposed Schedule Change

In the upcoming 2019-20 school year, the Upper School is discussing implementing a schedule change due to studies showing that teenagers’ academic performance is improved by exercise and a later start to the academic school day. Mondays would stay the same, but on Tuesdays through Fridays classes start at 9:15 a.m instead of 8:00 a.m. Tuesday through Friday there would still be 3 classes, but instead of 90 minutes, each will be 85 minutes. Tutorial (study hall) time will be shortened by between 30 minutes and 45 minutes. The academic school day would end at 3:15 p.m. instead of 3:10 p.m. For students who are not involved in an AWS sport or a sport outside of AWS, there will be a 45 minute PE offering starting at 8:00 a.m. which would be followed by 30 minute to shower and eat breakfast. Physical activities will also be offered in the afternoon at 4:30pm. 

 

For the change

By Julia Henning

There is research that shows that more sleep and physical activity is especially beneficial for teenagers. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it is typical for students to not be able to fall asleep before 11:00 p.m. as I myself have experienced. Let’s say a student woke up an hour before class, hypothetically. I know there are students that get up earlier, but for this let’s say that I wake up at 8:15 a.m. This means that even if I go to bed at midnight, I still get more than 8 hours of sleep. Furthermore, I know that I most likely will go to bed at 11pm, and dorm students have lights out at that time too, so I know that I would be able to get over 9 hours of sleep. With the current schedule, I have never gotten 9 hours of sleep several nights in a row. Sleep is known to improve mental health and relieve stress which is beneficial to any person whether they’re in high school or not.

As far as the morning period goes, being active in the mornings could help kickstart the day well for many students. From the survey Jake sent out to the students, about a quarter said they would participate in morning athletics. Personally, I do physical activity outside of school so I would not participate in the morning athletics. Even so, I believe that it is a good way to get students to stay active. The school is also open to ideas for morning sessions. This means that the students could form a yoga, swim, or even a zumba class. That could be fun and I would even consider joining even if I was doing my dance classes in the evening too. For the transition period, 30 minutes is a good amount of time to shower and eat. There are multiple shower spaces in the school: dorms, Kemper, and little gym. All of these can accommodate the students that would want to use them. The new gym also being built behind the current Kemper will have showers. This way, students do not feel sweaty headed to class.

I have heard some concerns about lunch time. When talking to Jake Guadnola, Head of the Upper School, he explained how he timed out the lunches and it only took the USG 15 minutes to cycle through the line. This means that we can all get our food before the Middle School or Lower School come down. With the schedule change there will only by 5 minutes cut off of lunch. No one is eating by the last 5 minutes of lunch anyway. We would still have 40 total minutes to eat and that is plenty of time. It would also be the same amount of time to still run music lessons for those students which partake in music extracurriculars. I understand that morning time orchestra might still run at the same time. I was on orchestra for 4 years up until last year. Part of the reason I discontinued my time with orchestra was because of the early morning session. I sincerely hope the school can find a solution to let the students that want to stay in orchestra also get sleep, but if you look at it another way, the orchestra would end at 7:50 a.m. or 7:55 a.m. This then could leave over an hour before class started to get work done that was due that day, so the students could go to bed earlier and instead do their work in the morning. They can get the same amount of sleep as the students not in orchestra this way even though they are still waking up early.

I am very much open to the shortening of tutorial as well. Tutorial time will only be shortened, not taken out completely and the 90 minute tutorial periods are too long anyway. By the last half hour, I am done with the school day and I become unproductive because I would rather be sleeping. This turns into a whole cycle. If I exercise, I am tired by the time I go to bed then I get up, and I have the energy to get work done and exercise again. Transitioning the whole Upper School into a pattern that makes everyone feel more productive could reduce stress levels and the general morale at school.

 

Against the change 

By Samantha Salamone 

While the intentions of the new schedule change are in our best interest, I think there will be many issues that we’ll come across as the schedule change is carried out.

When the idea of the new schedule was introduced to the student body, I greatly appreciated the intention behind the schedule change. It is aimed to improve our academic performance as well as our overall well being. However, the morning exercise block and the later start to classes comes with a price.

Many students will exercise from 8:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., and many of them will be day students. The issue will be showering. The showers in the Kemper locker rooms are currently used as storage. Although there is talk about moving all of the current items to a different place, there will still only be four showers there, which will certainly not accommodate every student. There are a few showers in the old pool locker rooms as well, but those are generally occupied by smaller children. Then we run into the issue of privacy. 7 year olds don’t care as much about privacy as 16 year olds do, and if appropriate privacy isn’t accommodated for showering, people will feel really uncomfortable, and people might just not shower. Personally, I need to feel ready and clean for my day, and if I don’t feel clean, or feel like I look ready for the day, then it’s harder for me to learn and focus.

Lunch may be a struggle as well. With the new schedule, lunch will be shorter and at a different time, when other divisions are eating lunch too. This may lead to longer lunch lines and limited seating, and since lunch will be shorter, we won’t have time to wait in line. Younger children tend to take a bit longer in the process of getting their food too, which would add to the time even more.

Because a big chunk of time will be taken out of our day, tutorial will also be a lot shorter, and with the amount of work we get, many students utilize that time to get it done, especially those who do sports. We’ll have the same workload, and less time to do it. Since everything gets out later, sports will be later, and students will get home later, which gives them little to no time to finish their homework, which leaves them with two options: stay up really late and sleep in, or wake up early to finish. Either way, they would get a lot less sleep, which defeats the purpose of the schedule overall. As I think about this, the only solution to this potential problem would be to lighten the homework load overall to balance out the shortened tutorial time.

Implementing this new schedule would also jeopardize the continuation of the Upper School Orchestra. As a musician, I’ve been in orchestra for five years, along with private piano lessons, which I’ve been taking for nine. It’s important to me and many other students that musicians and the music department are being kept in mind throughout a change like this. Not a lot of people are going to want to be at school at 7:00 a.m. if they can sleep until 8:45 a.m. I know I wouldn’t want to. In this case, if people don’t want to do it, there may not be an orchestra at all. Private lessons would be struggle for upper school students too. I take lessons at school during lunch on Fridays, when we have a longer lunch, which leaves me time to eat my food before class. With the schedule change, lunch would be shorter, and with shorter tutorials, I’d be afraid to have lessons then too, so I would certainly struggle to find a time to have a lesson. In a change like this, everyone should be considered, including musicians. Music is an extremely important part of my life, and many others.

These potential problems could certainly be ones we come across this coming year, and potentially other problems that nobody has thought of. While the intentions of this change are supposed to be beneficial, it may come with a lot of problems.