The Eleven-Day Week

Yesterday, I went to bed at 9:30 p.m. Despite my euphoric nine hours of sleep, this anomaly is only akin to those blissful first days of school. Classes had been somewhat lighter than the “challenging academic atmosphere” we all came to expect from Andover. With my overall morale skyrocketing around Friday afternoon, Upper Fall didn’t seem all that bad. Fast forward one week later, nerves are a little frayed, perhaps a little bent but not entirely broken. And that’s when it approaches, looming like an unslightly blotch on the horizon. Of the hundreds of syllabi handed out to students during those first few days of school, were the foreboding words were marked under the 24th of September: Periods 3 and 4 move from Friday to Saturday. Period 3 meets Sat 8:30-9:15. Period 4 meets Sat 9:25-10:10. These infamous Saturday classes, which occur every weekend at Exeter, were here to plague my Saturday sleep-in. They occur only three times a year here at Andover, once in the fall and twice in the spring. To the undiscerning eye, Saturday classes do not present a problem. Saturday classes lead to what some like to call “the 11 day week.” Students and teachers alike see them as not a problem to be solved but merely a nuisance to be endured. One of the advantages of Saturday classes lies in having Period 3 and Period 4 free on Friday, yet that small privilege is eclipsed by having to wake up the next morning, which is often used by students to catch up on sleep and recuperate. In addition to sleep, students use the weekend to prepare themselves for the coming week. Classes are actually finished pretty quickly. Harmless right? Wrong. Teachers use the coming week to ramp up the Andover treadmill a bit. Readings become longer, sets of math and science problems more complex and tests occur more frequently. That process becomes a lot harder when they have to wake up Saturday morning and consequently rise earlier on Sunday to get the time spent in class on homework for the coming week. As fall term moves along, students are a little worse for the wear, with a little more work and a little less sleep. They reasonably prepare for a week designed to be more difficult than the previous two. Teachers need to cover ground in their classes and make sure that students don’t get left behind. If the point is to learn, do Saturday classes help us do that, or is there a purpose the school serves greater than the students? Ben Krapels is three-year Upper from Andover, MA.