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Students Respond to the New Class Schedule
Gloria Chun '23 Staff Writer
November 2, 2021

The introduction of the new class schedule this fall has received a range of reactions from students. The school week now consists of three 90-minute periods a day, alternating between Periods 1-3 and Periods 4-6 throughout the week. Additionally, built-in time slots like Community Time and Flex Time offer more free time throughout the day. While many students appreciate the flexibility this new schedule offers, some also expressed concern.

However, this change in student’s days isn’t unexpected. In fact, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs & Strategy Dr. Ivory Hills said, “The school actually has been thinking about a new schedule for decades.” The pandemic served as a catalyst for the change.

Compared to the pre-pandemic schedule of seven 45-minute classes per day, the doubled class length provides students an opportunity for deeper learning and increased academic engagement. “We’ve always wanted to defragment our student experience, and we wanted to support learning that’s more memorable and transferable,” said Dr. Hills.

Dr. Hills added that compounding was a motivating factor behind the change. He predicted that, with increased focus per class encouraged by the three-period days, students will be able to “run [their lives] at a speed that is healthy and sustainable, not burning out so early into the school year.” 

Credit: Mandy Xiang

Gabe Swisher-Rosa ’23 agreed with Dr. Hills’s assessments, saying that “the longer periods give [him] more time to work on labs or projects.” He explained that with the previous 45 minute classes, he had “to rush to finish a science lab or an in-class assignment.” 

Emily Chin ’24 added, “Community time and the Flex time really helped [me] get work done.” She explained, “I really appreciated how these free blocks gave me a time to breathe before the next class.”

However, despite the benefits of the decompressed schedule, Dr. Hills agreed that it has room for improvements. Head Peer Tutor Rosnel Leyva-Cortes ’22 concurred, saying,  “I wish there was more continuity between the classes. If there’s a class on Thursday, there will be almost a four-day gap until I meet the teacher again.” 

He added that he sees many tutees struggling with the discontinuity of the new schedule. “I think the frequency is an important factor especially when it comes to retention of language skills. A lot of students come to peer tutoring sessions asking for help in Chinese or Spanish that I believe shouldn’t be a struggle if they had the class more than twice or three times a week,” he said.  

Levya-Cortes also noted that “many underclassmen seemed to be overwhelmed by the amount of independence that the new schedule offers.” He explained, “New to the boarding school life itself, freshmen also had to quickly adjust to the high school academic standards. I think it was hard for them to manage time and workload in two days, whereas I remember having a specific list of things to do for the next day, because all of the classes would meet every day.” 

The lower frequency of classes with the alternating schedule also seems to crowd assessments on the same day. Emily Chin ’24 said, “I have to get extensions sometimes because I would have two tests and an essay due in the span of two days. Because there’s only two or three different days for the teachers to choose when to give out tests, there’s a lot more chance that many will overlap.”   

Overall, based on the various responses of the students, it is clear that the new academic schedule boasts many benefits as well as flaws. Dr. Hills expressed his willingness to hear more student perspectives, saying that “[his] door is always open for anyone” who wants deeper insights regarding the new schedule or has suggestions for improvements.