School Congress Debates Possible Schedule Change

In a classroom of Samuel Phillips Hall, surrounded by teachers and peers, Laura Bilal ’17 advocated for a block schedule.

Students and faculty discussed ways to improve both the daily schedule and the yearly calendar at Student Congress on Monday night.

The conversations centered around making the daily schedule more student-centric and ideas for changes like pushing back class times and lengthening class periods were frequently echoed between the classrooms.

Around 225 students and 150 faculty members showed up, marking a significant increase in attendance from previous School Congress meetings, according to Fernando Alonso, faculty advisor to Student Council.

The spike in attendance was a result of increased advertising around campus about School Congress in the hope that more students and faculty would come to contribute to discussion, according to David Gutierrez ’15, Student Body Co-President and member of the committee that will consider the revisions to the schedule and calendar.

“I think it would be easy for [faculty] to think we know what was best for the students, but in this sense, we really are saying we appreciate [students’] input. If we are going to make decisions about what is best for the school, we need [students] to be involved in that,” said Terrell Ivory, Assistant Dean of Admission.

Students and faculty were randomly assigned to classrooms, where they participated in group discussions, co-facilitated by a member of student government and a faculty member.

A recurring suggestion was to move class start-times back. Some proposed that conference period be moved to the beginning of the day, giving students the opportunity to meet with a teacher before class or to sleep in, Gutierrez said.

“It was important that students finally make their own concerns heard… It will help improve other aspects for our community if this schedule gets fixed or tweaked,” said Gutierrez.

Another idea that was repeated many times was to lengthen classes or even adopt a block schedule where each class met every other day for longer blocks of time, allowing teachers to go further in-depth during class time, according to Ivory.

“I think the main problem right now with the schedule is just that so much is crammed into so little time. I think if we tried to have less classes in the days or tried to do the block schedules, that it would really help with the homework load and help with the crazy feel of a typical day,” Bilal said.

School Congress also focused on potential changes to the yearly calendar, especially regarding the two-week period between Thanksgiving Vacation and Winter Vacation that kicks off Winter Term.

Students and faculty were encouraged to write down their ideas on sticky notes. Those sticky notes were collected, and they will be compiled and presented to the Schedule/Calendar Committee, which will consider the ideas from School Congress as they revise the daily schedule and the yearly calendar, according to Gutierrez.