New School Schedule Causes Debate

With freshman allowed off campus for the first time in more than 30 years, the days of upperclassman yelling, “Freshman off campus!” is now a thing of the past.  This is among many of the small changes made for the 2018-2019 school year, but bigger adjustments have occured. The dreaded 80 minute period: is it for the best? 

A steadily increasing student population led to the introduction of a new schedule. It will continue to grow until 2022 with a high of over 1,800 students before the enrollment begins to decrease.

After talking to plenty of students, the consensus is that the 80 minute extended periods are not very well liked, but most people enjoy having more time in their frees. Nick Suppiah, a sophomore at Ridgewood, has “observed that the 80 minutes is too demanding for both students and teachers.” Suppiah argues that, “a 5-10 minute break in the 80 minute period would be beneficial.” I completely agree with his perspective, but at the end of the day the boredom associated with the extended periods depends on the class at hand. Jordan Rarich, a junior at Ridgewood believes, “it’s okay for most classes, but for math it’s horrible. I believe we can’t learn math for that long. And our brains get tired.”

I’ve noticed that students taking Project Adventure and Digital Photo may not be affected by the new schedule, yet students in a gym class with none of their friends or an AP elective may be affected tremendously. Some teachers may offer their students five minute breaks so that students may rest during extended periods — yet others may offer two quizzes in one period. Teachers may see this as completely morally justified because in their perspective anything is fair play for students in Honors or AP courses.

Without rules stemming from the upper echelons of the school administration, many students will have to deal with the daily reality of teachers careening through 80 minute lectures without any recourse.  James Scanlon, a student at Ridgewood, echoes the same idea, arguing that, “it’s awful, the 80 minute periods for non-science subjects are way too long and teachers don’t know what to do to fill in the time slot.” Teachers have had limited time to adjust to this new schedule, and many have students work on obscure assignments or get a head start on homework. Luca Richman, a junior at Ridgewood High, explains that “it works well for labs, but in every other class it’s annoying. Not only does the class drag on, but often times teachers try to cram in more material on those days, or create longer tests than normal.” However, science teachers still have to cut back on labs because even though 80 minutes is usually more than enough for labs, science teachers complain about losing overall instructional hours in comparison to last year, and therefore cut labs to make up for lost instructional time, so maybe students are losing in the long run.

Yet even with all of the criticism and deep controversy, some people seem to welcome the change. A sophomore at Ridgewood High, Victoria Lyakerman, shares a popular opinion: “The 80 minute free period is better than last year because you can actually get work done during it. During some classes it’s rough because no one is focused after the first 50 minutes.” Student life and happiness always depends on teachers and scheduling. People’s opinions of the schedule will always depend on what their teachers decide to do with the time, if students like their teachers, and enjoy the courses they are taking. However, a shared opinion among all students is the benefits brought upon to the widely loved free periods.

“At first I thought it was gonna be bad but now I kind of like it. I feel like having the 80 minutes work period helps a lot when it comes to discussions and class projects. The only problem with it is that it is often confusing when the period ends,” states Zachary Kim, a sophomore. Ask yourself, with the RHS app and the clock on your cellular, does the time that the period ends really affect you? Having additional time in discussions and class projects is great; it means debates are not cut off and class projects can be completed in class rather than in our busy lives outside of school.

In all, school is school; I go to school to learn and to socialize. If something as cherished to RHS students as free periods or the open campus was taken away, I would be the first to publicly challenge the school. However, I see more advantages than disadvantages with the new schedule. Many others only see benefits in the new schedule, and I think it is not as big of a change as some are making it out to be. Even though a lot of students and teachers have strong opinions on the schedule, most students are more concerned with more important things — Junior Henry Sun speaks the truth: “It doesn’t matter to me because school still starts at 7:45 am and ends at 2:50 pm.”

Aaron Friedman
staff writer

Graphic: Amelia Chen

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