Just two years ago, our school-wide schedule consisted of 40 minute blocks that rotated from day to day, resetting at the beginning of every week. This rather mundane and repetitive cycle was exchanged last year for our current schedule: three classes of 75 minutes every Wednesday and Thursday over a two week schedule. Now, in year two of the two week schedule, the novelty of having only three classes a day has worn off, and it is time to take a step back and evaluate the effectiveness of the new schedule. The biggest change from the old schedule to the new was the transition from 40 minute blocks to the newer long blocks. These 75 minute blocks definitely have several upsides, such as longer time to cover more material in fact-heavy classes or the freedom for science classes to complete even the most complicated of labs in only one period. Obviously, the 75 minute block that has the largest upside for the students is the long free block, where one has over an hour to work on some homework, study for an upcoming test, or simply take a break from the daily hassles of high school life; however, as any student can attest, three straight long blocks can make for a very long day, especially with the extra amount of homework that often accompany the extended classes. Even for teachers, it can be hard to fit 75 minutes of material into one class while keeping students active and engaged; however, the more this new schedule is in use, the more students and teachers will become adjusted to dealing with these long blocks. The new schedule also ushered in the two week system, which rotated the class sequence every Monday and Tuesday. Although this can occasionally cause some confusion as to which week it is in the cycle, this allows the time period of classes to shift and provides a slight change from day to day. Overall, the new schedule has several pros and cons, but, provided you can get used to the long blocks, it is an effective change from the monotonous schedule from two years ago.
The most notable change with this year’s schedule is the schedule of the midterm tests. Midterms have been a source of great discrepancy over the last couple years, moving from after the winter break, as was the case in the 2013-2014 school year, to last year’s calendar, with midterms split both before and after winter vacation. This shift away from the January midterms was perpetrated by the fear that students would be spending too much of their vacation time studying and worrying about their upcoming examinations. This year, an even greater step was taken in this direction with the abolishment of midterms after winter break. Another key factor of this new schedule is the subtraction of two midyear exams. This year, there will only be three midterms instead of the regular five, once again reducing the stress levels of students who otherwise would need to consecutively deal with five two-hour marathons. However, classes that do not have midterms will likely have work throughout this period, including papers and projects that can take up many hours reserved for studying. Despite this, this differentiation often works out for students, as they have several days to prepare what they know in a project format instead cramming for a two hour single test. This midterm format should make the close of the first semester much less hectic for the students, and it certainly is the easiest and most effective of the recent exam schedule.