Forty minute periods to fifty minute periods. Six classes per day to five classes per day. Half day Wednesdays. Thacher underwent a massive schedule change over spring break. Now, for the students here, a school day means fewer but longer classes. Most faculty members and the school chair agreed upon this decision in hopes to relieve stress and give students more time to develop good study habits and new interests. The new schedule also separates the lunch and assembly period, giving students half an hour to eat lunch and relax with friends.
Student response to the schedule change was varied. According to a survey, 36 percent of students liked the new schedule, while 23 percent responded negatively. The majority, 41 percent, felt neutral about the change.
Most freshmen are enjoying the schedule change. Longer free periods give students more time to relax or get work done during day. Moreover, classes only meet four times a week, which seems to decrease the amount of work given to students. Abby Romo ‘19 says: “I love the new schedule. Our half day Wednesdays are amazing because we can ride early and have some free time. It has been a welcomed change and has created more free time during our busy lives.” However, many freshmen also argue that the “half-day Wednesdays” don’t actually count because Extreme Cowboy Races can take place as early as 1:30, which gives students whose classes end at 1:05 only twenty minutes to change and get to the barns. Survey comments from freshmen reflect the idea that it isn’t fair for the horse department to take away the students’ Wednesday afternoons. As Eli Graff ‘19 says: “ I’ve noticed teachers and uppers get a bit annoyed in hearing complaining about ECR’s on Wednesday’s though. All I’ll say is that they’d hear a lot less complaining if ECR’s weren’t required on Wednesdays and if you wanted you wouldn’t have to participate and could ride at a normal time. I don’t think it’s fair that the academic faculty should promise a Wednesday to their students and then another type of faculty should take away that promise.”
Seniors seem to not enjoy enjoy the new schedule. Lydia Paxton ‘16 says: “It’s just because seniors have experienced a better schedule. When I was in my freshman and sophomore year, we had both 40 minute classes and half-day Wednesdays. I don’t understand why we can’t have that again, since we already have a lot of work.” With the extra 10 minutes added to class and significant amount of homework and AP work, seniors feel the new schedule, despite aiming to promote the idea of less stress, has actually done the opposite. Marc Jiang ‘16 commented : “Some teachers continue to assign homework on days where the class doesn’t meet, so there’s still some unclear areas.”
The Dean of Studies, Ms. Pidduck, said the goal of the new schedule was to “achieve three things: 1) a dedicated and protected lunch period each day; 2) a mid-week break in the routine; 3) fewer classes each day.” The administration has sent out a questionnaire to get a better feel of what should be changed. So far, the new schedule has worked out nicely amongst the majority of students and has received widespread attention.