Schedule Change Point of View

by Brian McDermott and Yannis Lam

The answers to the following questions were done in cooperation with Sharon High School student Jessica Chen. Chen attended Braintree Public Schools from the 3rd-9th grades before transferring to Sharon High School at the beginning of this 14-15’ school year. Due to her unique experience to both the Braintree and Sharon school systems, she expressed her opinions in regards to the proposed schedule changes at Braintree High. It is important to note the size and community differences between Sharon and Braintree before considering her opinion. These are her personal opinions and do not reflect upon Braintree High News as an entity.

1. How does your school’s schedule operate?
At Sharon High School, the first class starts at 8:05 AM. However, if the students arrive earlier than 8:00 AM, they are allowed to wander the school and chat with their friends before the bell rings. Homeroom is only required on the first day of school. The later school times are made possible due to the middle school starting school at 7:45 AM and ending at 2:10 PM, while the SHS school day lasts until 2:40 PM.

On a typical school day, students would have Eagle Block after the first 2 classes. Eagle Block is a 40-minute long “study” period that allows students to attend a music class, study for an upcoming test in the next class, make up any tests if they cannot stay after-school to take it, work on projects, or eat a snack because some students may not have gotten a chance to eat breakfast. Eagle Block is named after the Sharon High School mascot, the eagle.
After Eagle Block, there is one more class before lunch block. Lunch block is the longest class of the day and it lasts about 2 hours. That is because there are 4 lunches, separated by grade. The juniors eat lunch first, the freshmen second, sophomores third, and seniors eat lunch last. For mixed classes, the lunch the students will go to depends on the majority of the students in that class. Any physical education class occurring during lunch block go to senior lunch. Since there are many students in each grade, there is an area outside where students can eat when it’s warm. The library is also an option. After the long lunch block is the very last class of the day.

2. Does it run smoothly? Would you prefer to have a schedule like Braintree’s 7-day cycle with each class meeting everyday?
Sometimes, Sharon High School has pep rallies at the end of the day for sports teams. When that happens, the schedule is revised for the day so that the students will attend the classes they are supposed to. The classes are shorter and the last class is usually moved so that it is before lunch. The lunch hours stay relatively the same, but the last block is dedicated to the pep rally.
Sharon High School recently had course selection assemblies for each grade, and the assembly occurred during Eagle Block. Of course, different grades had the assembly on different days.
The snow day policy for Sharon High School is just like the snow day policy for Braintree High School. There are rarely any half-days for Sharon High School, however. The schedules for midyears and finals for SHS are also similar to those of BHS.
When I transferred to SHS, I was pretty confused with the schedule because it was very different than the schedule at BHS. But the schedule runs very well and as far as I know, there hasn’t been any sort of problem with the scheduling. Although the students do not have one of their main classes everyday, it doesn’t seem to affect them. For me, it’s actually easier because there is less information about different subjects for me to cram into my brain each day. I remember assignments, tests, and the class material more easily and I’m not as stressed with trying to prepare for many tests and quizzes all at once.

3. How long are your classes? Would you prefer to have shorter classes or do you not mind the current length?
Each class is about 50 to 55 minutes long, with the exception of Eagle Block and lunch block, on a regular school day. Lunch block is about 2 hours long, but the actual class time is 1 hour and 30 minutes, since lunch is about 30 minutes long. Eagle Block is about 40 minutes long. I don’t mind the current length, although sometimes the class seems to drag on for forever, since I’m given more time to go over a topic with the teacher. Also, the teachers aren’t rushing to teach the material, so they have time to be thorough in their explanations, which is more effective than trying to pass out a large packet with notes on the class and trying to fly through it.

4. With a longer period, are teachers more creative with their lesson plans?
I wouldn’t say that most teachers are more creative with the lesson plan. However, teachers have more time to be thorough and teach more about the current topic. Most teachers give out assignments that require the students to work the whole class. Some teachers will show the class a video that correlates to the current topic, or show a movie that has a connection to the class. A longer class also allows science teachers to get more done, especially if the class is doing a lab. However, most labs are done when the students have science class during lunch block.

5. What is it like missing a class everyday? Do you like it or would you prefer to meet everyday? Do you tend to get more homework in the class you miss?
I can say for a fact that missing a class everyday is a lot easier than having every class everyday, as a student. Although Braintree High School’s schedule with 7 classes a day kept me busy and focused, it was also very difficult for me to take in various new information and remember everything, which eventually led to forgetting everything. On the other hand, missing a class everyday gives me a sense of relaxation and enough time to fully understand the material. I’m stressing less about the amount of assessments each day and I’m more confident in how well I comprehend the subject.

The amount of homework I receive from the class I miss depends on the subject and the teacher. For example, a science teacher may assign more homework as review because the class is more complicated and requires a lot of studying. Or a teacher could be absent from school the next couple of days and give an assignment that the students are capable of doing alone, since they already have all the materials needed. Also, I believe that the long lunch block partially makes up for the missed class.

6. Which of these two schedules looks more appealing to you?
While the first schedule looks more organized and easier to understand, the second schedule doesn’t look as crowded and to me, it looks less stressful. The first schedule leaves me with a feeling of being so busy that there’s no time left for relaxing activities, while the second schedule leaves me with a feeling of having at least some time for hobbies and other activities.

Read more about the proposed schedule change in the latest print edition of Braintree High News.