To address concerns over short lunch periods, back-to-back 70-minute teaching blocks, and lost class time, a revised schedule announced by administrators last year is now in full effect.
With the opening of the Hastings Center— which features an enlarged dining facility, additional classroom space, a new college counseling office, STEAM Lab, Maker Studio and Media Center—it was time for some change, according to Upper School Head Joshua Neudel.
“We came to the conclusion that Brimmer may need a very different looking schedule in the coming years to support the pedagogical goals of classes, but for the next couple of years we could make some tweaks to improve the experience for students and teachers,” Neudel said.
For one tweak, the lunch period has been extended from 30-to-40 minutes, beginning ten minutes earlier for the Middle and Upper Schools.
“I think the lunch time is much better,” says Dylan Rigol ‘18. “You can enjoy your food and have time to get seconds. Seniors also have more time to go off campus for whatever reason.”
For another tweak, the 2:30-3:10 Wednesday assembly/activity block has shifted to after Upper School lunch. The period will also be used as a make-up block for lost classroom time, which impacted instruction heavily last year.
Last fall, special assemblies on African drumming and success and setback, as well the Harvest Fest and an election workshop, cut into class time. To compensate, the School announced plans to jettison traditional midterms, including a review week leading into a week of exams before the holiday break.
In the spring, the School also carved out classroom time to accommodate assemblies for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Syrian refugee crisis, an Irish choir, gender equality, and an Earth Day celebration—most of which were scheduled outside of the planned assembly/activity block.
Several years ago, the School combined the assembly/activity block to allow for more instruction time, according to Associate Head for Academic Affairs Joe Iuliano.
“This year, we are trying to use assembly time more judiciously, while still slotting time for clubs to meet when nothing else is planned for that period,” Iuliano said, adding that administrators are open to input from students.
Still, the infrequency of scheduled club meeting time worries some, who fear that clubs will not be able to grow or sustain momentum—even as a longer lunch block could give additional time to gather.
Sylvia Welch ’19 is trying to start a French Culture Club, which, due to time constraints, would requires students to meet during lunch.
“Students like to eat lunch with their friends and relax,” she said. “They don’t really want to go to club meetings. Because of this, I am worried about the success of my club, as well as the fate of other clubs.”
In addition to the 10-minute Thursday meeting, the new schedule includes an additional 10-minute advisory block Tuesday.
“I think it’s nice to have some extra time to check in with your advisor,” says Sophia Gomez ’19. “It’s more convenient, and it’s a nice way to start the day.”
To accommodate the changes, School will end at 3:15 p.m., or 5 minutes later than the existing schedule. Middle School will gain 5-minutes of class time each day.