by Margot Zuckerman and Vanessa Contratto
If you are a part Chadwick’s daily life, familiarity with the complicated schedule is essential for maintaining one’s sanity.
Chadwick’s current Middle and Upper School schedule is a combination of block and non-block periods. The plan behind the block part of this schedule has two main purposes: one, giving students a break when it comes to homework each night, and two, allotting a longer class time so projects can be worked on for longer, and more in-depth lessons can be taught.
In 2002, the current schedule was implemented. It was a work of all of the teachers’ ideas put together by math teacher Michael Cass.
Because of Chadwick’s schedule, students complain about the amount of homework due for Tuesday, but enjoy the extra time afforded to them during free periods.
Freshman Rebekah Roberts, believes the block schedule is nice when it comes to homework, but she found the new schedule hard to adjust to in the beginning of the year.
“At first in was kind of confusing, […] but I got used to it,” she said.
Middle School math teacher Yasuko Morihara believes a block schedule is not as beneficial for math as it is for other subjects.
Morihara said, “A little [math] everyday is better than large chunks.”
Aside from the rotation of classes on each day, the amount of time allotted for each class period at Chadwick seems very foreign to some of our friends who attend neighboring schools, as well.
A non-block day, such as Mondays, Tuesdays, or Fridays, consists of six academic classes each holding time slot of forty-five minutes. On the block days, Wednesdays and Thursdays, students attend only three academic classes for 80-minute periods.
The 215 minutes spent in class per week at Chadwick is far less than the total amount of time for each class at nearby schools. At Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, students spend 280 minutes in each class per week, and the students have each class every day. And, at Palos Verdes High School, students have a three block classes each day and spend a total of 285 minutes in class per week. In comparison with these two schools, Chadwick has very short individual class times.
Despite the shorter class periods, Chadwick students still get out of school later than both PVHS and MCHS students: PVHS’s average school day finishes at 2:50, and MCHS’s average school day finishes at 2:55. Chadwick’s school day ends at 3:40.
However, these other high schools have their sports practices after school, while Chadwick’s sports start anywhere from 3:00 to 3:30, cutting into the school day. And, at Chadwick, a higher percentage of the student population is involved in sports compared to its neighboring schools.
Besides the issues of sports, Chadwick’s school day is significantly longer than other high schools, even with its much shorter class periods. The long school day doesn’t affect some of the student body, like seniors, who are permitted to leave school as soon as their classes are finished.
Senior Kari Ayoob said, “In terms of the whole day, […] I’m never here past like two o‘clock anyways.”
Aside from these exceptions, the question still arises of why Chadwick has a longer school day but shorter class times than neighboring schools. The key in this answer is what classes Chadwick offers after lunch.
In both the Middle and Upper School, all academic classes have to be short enough to be finished before lunch, leaving much time for clubs, activities, sports and free periods in the afternoon.
Morihara believes that these activities are beneficial to the students’ pleasure and are something unique to Chadwick.
However, Morihara said, “There is a lot of time that I think could be compressed” because of the activities, but she admits that her daughter valued these greatly once she graduated from Chadwick. Nonetheless, Morihara believes that longer class times would help her students learn more. Chadwick has a much shorter school year than most local and international schools, which is why Morihara feels that longer class times and school days are necessary.
Similarly, Cass believes the 80-minute class periods are necessary for projects, group work, and anything else that might not be manageable in 45 minutes.
On block days, he says, “I feel a lot freer to plan more creatively and let my students work more together and use the time to collaborate on problems that are more time-consuming.”
Cass also believes the additional time for arts is unique to Chadwick’s schedule.
“Not only does it dedicate time to the arts, which is a wonderful outlet for many students, but it also gives free time to the students not involved in the arts,” he said. “Those students can use the time to rest, socialize, or even see teachers for extra help that might not otherwise happen.”
Dean of Students Lauren Stern believes that Chadwick’s schedule is valuable, and if anything, there should be more time allotted where students can participate in student leadership groups.
Stern believes that groups like Student Council, the Community Service Advisory Board, and other clubs should have a longer amount of time during school to meet so students who are unable to come to early-morning meetings or who are involved in other activities during seventh and eight periods will still be able to participate.
In a recent survey, many students commented that they want a full block schedule every day. They said that having a full block schedule lets you go into more depth in class, get more accomplished and gives you less homework to complete every night.
Students also commented that 7:55 is too early to start, especially for students who have farther to travel to get to school.
Because of the length of the school day and the sports they participate in practice late into the afternoon, students are unable to participate in out-of-school activities.
When sports have away games, athletes must participate late into the evening. When they get home, they have 5 or 6 subjects of homework to complete almost every night, causing them to go to bed very late and having to wake up early to get to school on time.
Having an all block schedule could let students leave school earlier and have more time for homework, which would be a valuable change. This is what about one fifth of the students who took the survey thought is the best idea.
Overall, though Chadwick’s class schedule can be confusing and is controversial, most people agree that it is on the path to becoming a good fit for all. Morihara may be speaking for more than herself when she said, “I sure like teaching here!”
STUDENT OPINIONS AND RESPONSES
-It’s good. Not so long that you (Usually) dread going to class or count down the minutes to the bell, but not so short that you cannot learn anything. 45 minutes is a good length.
-Non-block days make the classes go by gruelingly slowly, even to a miserable pace sometimes. Those days feel three times longer than block days, and they’re probably less efficient too. We don’t get as much done.
-Sometimes I wish we could have all block days so we could focus on one thing for a longer period of time without wasting minutes changing classes.