New Schedule Changes Greeted With Excitement

Casey Gaughan '16 ponders her new schedule between classes. Photo Credit: Colly Smith '16
Casey Gaughan ’16 ponders her schedule between classes. Photo Credit: Colly Smith ’16

With a new year, inevitably, comes new changes. The faculty and staff at Thacher are constantly trying to improve the school, making adjustments as they go along. Last year a few notable changes were the opening of New Casa and the addition of the yogurt bar halfway through the school year.

This year the changes will be vast. Plans to renovate the dining hall are being made and Thacher has already embraced a completely different sports league with much success. The real change though, and also the one that most students are still somewhat apprehensive about, is the new schedule.

Until now, Thacher has always played in the Condor League. However, as Thacher moves to the Frontier League, changes are necessary. Instead of athletic games being played on Wednesdays and Fridays, the Frontier League’s games are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. As a result, the current academic schedule has been altered to accommodate the new league sports schedule.

Most of the changes made to the school day are minor. Students with labs or APs may start class at 8:00 on certain days, while regular classes begin at 8:40 – ten minutes later than they did in previous years. Electives are concentrated in the later portion of the day known as the ‘x-block’, meaning that those who choose to opt out of electives could potentially end their school days earlier.

Assemblies have also been shifted a little later in the day due to regular classes starting slightly later. Formal dinners have also been changed to Mondays, Wednesdays, Sundays, and either formal dinner on Thursdays or sit down lunches on Fridays. The first Friday sit-down lunch happened on September 19 with a mixed reaction, but with plenty of excitement and discussion.

Tuesdays and Thursdays also now contain a short twenty minute break for students with consecutive lunches to grab a bite to eat as well, though that break has seen crowded lunch lines and frenzied eating.

One additional adjustment has been that sports are now also held on Saturdays, with coaches required to hold practices from 2:00 to 4:00 if they don’t already have a game scheduled.

What’s concerned students since the rumors of a schedule change began to surface though, is the loss of half days on Wednesdays. Half days represent an important break in the long school week, where students are able to relax after they finish sports and head into town if necessary. These half days have been replaced with shortened Tuesdays and Thursdays, both of which end at 2:10. Still, students lament the change and wonder how to make due with weekend-only town runs.

So far, the faculty, in particular the science staff, have had a positive outlook on these changes.

“We will have time to set up labs,” Mr. Peter Sawyer noted, a thought echoed by several other teachers.

Mr. Sawyer also notes that with the new ‘x-block’, students who previously were unable to take a biology elective will now have the opportunity to take an elective without it significantly interfering with their schedule.

“In this new schedule, science teachers get lunch every day,” added Dr. Chris Vyhnal.

 

“It seems like the faculty have really tried to tend to our needs as students,” Sasha Ongley ‘15 stated. “I appreciate that. I’m excited about this new schedule!”

“I’m looking forward to see how things go,” commented Mr. David Harris.  “Whenever there are changes people get a little nervous, but I see it as an opportunity to re-examine what you have done in the past and see if you can improve.”

Mr. Brian Pidduck summed it up in just four words. “I think it’s great.”

Only time can tell how the schedule will work out. It’s very likely that tweaks will be made during the first trimester and the current schedule may not be the one that eventually sticks around. There’s no certainty in what the near future may bring. Change is rarely easy to accept. Hopefully though, these changes will prove worthwhile as we move into the 2014-2015 school year, and perhaps, will yield the best year yet.

Director of Studies, Blossom Beatty Pidduck, has asked students to be patient and reserve judgement. That is, until now. With a Google Form coming to students soon, they will now have the opportunity to give feedback and comments about what small tweaks might work best.

While students won’t be able to request the return of half-day Wednesdays, they will have the chance to participate in the way the schedule might benefit Thacher students in the future.