The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

New Schedule

Anticipation grows for new Upper School class schedule next fall
Photo credit: The Parker Weekly

While many schools have schedules that consist of six to eight day rotations, with each day assigned a respective letter, Parker’s current schedule has a five day rotation.he schedule is dependent on the day of the week, Clark and Webster blocks fill the day, allowing for more free time, and classes are only 50 minutes. However, starting next school year, a new schedule changes all of that. This schedule, which has been in the works since last spring, will finally be implemented.

The new schedule is an eight day rotation. Each day starts with a 45 minute Arts Ensemble block at 8:00 a.m. Academic classes begin at 8:45 with each day being filled with four to five letter blocks that  range from 60 to 75 minutes. There is 40 minutes of community time, 20 minutes of conference or advisory, a new wellness block that takes place every other day, and lunch at 1:001 in the afternoon every day. Each day in the new schedule comes to a close at 3:30 p.m.

Though implementation of the new schedule may seem sudden, a new schedule has been a hot topic for several years. “This wasn’t the first time we’ve thought of a schedule reconfiguration,” Head of Upper School Cory Zeller said. “When the COVID pandemic hit, people realized that there are lots of possibilities for a new schedule.” The primary reason that fueled the schedule change is that “we’re a JK-12 school that shares spaces,” Zeller said. The whole school will be on the new schedule which will allow for shared spaces to be used more effectively across divisions. “We wanted the day to feel a little bit less frenetic. We wanted to increase student choice. And we wanted there to be more room for programming that accentuates Parker’s values,” Zeller said. “That’s why we have dedicated time to the arts, dedicated time to community, and dedicated time for wellness.”

While many students will miss the current five day rotation, “It [the new schedule] was never going to be five days,” Zeller said. The administration was presented with two options, a schedule with a seven day rotation and one with an eight day rotation. “Originally, every class was going to be 70 minutes long, but we would meet less frequently,” Zeller said. However, after receiving input from the math and science departments, coupled with the desire to have the new Upper School schedule align with the new Middle School schedule, a 60 minute standard period was agreed upon. “Once we decided that a period should be 60 minutes, we decided to increase the frequency of the class from only meeting every other day,” Zeller said.

Much thought went into the creation of the new schedule. Each department met with the schedule consultant, along with a number of student groups, to ensure that the schedule best represented all the different needs of the student body. “Representatives from Student Government, like Curriculum Committee and Senate, met with the consultant, along with a selected group of students that represented various ages also met with her,” Zeller said.

One of the primary changes to the schedule is the addition of a flex period. Every letter block will have a flex period once in every eight day cycle. There are two options for ways to spend a flex block, which will be determined by the course not the teacher. 

The first option, and what’s considered the ‘default,’ is that the flex block will be a student dictated period in which they can decide whether they want to meet with the teacher, study, work on a group project, or do other asynchronous work. 

The second option is that the flex period will just be a normal class period for science classes and some math classes. “Flex blocks are the new free periods. I’ve been really clear with teachers that those are student initiated blocks, and if they are totally checked out and are wanting to just take a break, then that’s okay because the flex block is student dictated,” Zeller said.

Another primary addition to the schedule is the 75 minute period to begin every day. “The reason for it is to create a time for a science lab or an exam or an in class writing assignment, so that they don’t have to extend over multiple class periods,” Zeller said. “It also helps to space out assessments, and it builds in extended time for those who need it.” The goal of this period is to space out major assignments so that students only have one a day. 

“I don’t know if that will come to fruition,” Zeller said. “Math teachers like to give tests on the same day because then the students can’t share what was on the test. But the hope is to try to reduce the number of assessments per day.”

Another new block that was added to the schedule is wellness. Wellness meets four times in an eight day cycle. Three of those meetings will be used for PE classes, with the last one being used for a new, required course for all grades titled LifeKit. LifeKit is supposed to be a separate space for all of the different topics that were shoved into graderoom time in the past. LifeKit teaches different materials depending on grade level. 

“Ninth and tenth graders will be doing things like DEIB, leadership training, social media and digital literacy, along with topics covered in the current freshmen health class like how to manage stress, anxiety, and topics like that,” Zeller said. “Eleventh graders will start by taking a leadership seminar with Mr. Bruno along with stress and workload management. Then moving into the second semester they will be meeting with College Counseling to talk about the Common App, how to write an essay, how to get a good recommendation, and other skills to prepare them for senior year… Twelfth graders learn life skills like self defense, financial literacy, and finally how to say goodbye to Parker and transition to college. The topics included in Senior Seminar will now be dispersed throughout junior and senior year.”

Civic Lab in the past has been an activity reserved only for juniors. However, the new schedule introduced a Civic Lab block that meets once every eight days, extending Civic Lab to the entire Upper School. For ninth and tenth graders, their Civic Lab topics will relate to their curriculum. Freshmen will be focusing on climate science and sustainability, which ties in with their biology class, and sophomores will be focusing on the migrant and immigrant population, which ties in with their world history classes. 

“In ninth and tenth grade, it’s a full year theme, everyone’s doing a theme with just subgroups,” Zeller said, “then in eleventh grade you finally get to pick which topic to focus on, and then May term will fill the time for twelfth grade.”

Along with Civic Lab, another period that occurs during community time is a time for clubs, affinity groups, and Cabinet to meet. Occurring twice every eight days, this designated time gives student organizations more opportunities to hold meetings. 

“The whole school is free during this time, so we wanted clubs and affinity groups to meet then so that student JK-12 can attend the meeting,” Zeller said. “I think it would really help with some mentorship across the school, and it will be nice to be able to meet for 40 minutes instead of the 30 minutes during lunch when you have to wait in the line and also eat your meal.” Building in time for student led meetings also helps reflect Parker’s values, which was one of the overarching goals when creating the new schedule. 

Lots is changing with the new schedule and Student Government is no exception. Student Government now occurs twice every eight days, which also means cabinet meets twice every eight days. 

“There’s a lot more Student Government happening next year,” Student Government faculty advisor and Upper School history teacher Jeanne Barr said, “personally I’m excited because this is my favorite thing…but if we don’t use this time effectively there will be backlash which will mean we will be cut down to meeting one time a cycle.” There are many ways to fill Student Government time with things like plenary, small groups, town halls, and committee meetings. 

“My initial thought is that committees get to meet more often,” Barr said. “Our committees meet so infrequently as to not even really be meaningful, and them meeting more often will also put committee leaders into the position of actually being leaders and into the position of motivating their peers and presenting viable events.” At the beginning of the year when Student Government is just getting started, there isn’t much content, like proposals, to discuss in Plenary. However, the increased Student Government time will also be used for training next year’s freshmen, as the new DoCC proposal gets put into place. 

“September and October, the content level is thin…something we’ll have to think about is how we can use those first couple months for training,” Barr said, “You know it’s all new and we’re going to reinvent it in whole come next September.”

The many additions to the schedule also come with many aspects being removed. Passing periods were one of the many things on the chopping block. However, although not entirely apparent, passing periods are still included in the schedule, just not as their own designated five minutes. 

“It is wasted time to have five minute increments on a schedule because it doesn’t take you five minutes to get from point A to point B,” Zeller said. “When you build passing periods into the schedule, it makes the day unnecessarily longer for no reason other than walking.” Students and teachers next year will have to assimilate to leaving class a couple minutes early or arriving to class a couple minutes late.

As the new schedule comes to fruition next September, many students have expressed varying opinions on the rather controversial topic. “I hate how choir is in the morning only,” sophomore Louise Hall said. “It makes people, including myself, question if taking choir is really worth jeopardizing my sleep schedule.” Students’ concern about their overall comfort seems to be a common topic. “Lunch is way too late,” sophomore Elle Greenstein said. “I get really hungry, and especially for those who have Arts Ensemble, they could spend up to five hours not eating.”

Thoughts are not all bad though, as the new schedule brings in room for new opportunities. “I actually don’t mind the new schedule,” sophomore Brady Kass said. “I like the consistency compared to the one that we have now. However, there is no doubt that the new schedule will definitely be a huge adjustment for everyone.”

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Jayden Patel
Jayden Patel, Brief Writer
Jayden Patel is excited to start his first year on "The Weekly" as a Brief Writer and Staff Writer. When he isn't updating people on the latest Parker news, he is spending his time playing tennis, creating the Student Voice, or getting a latte at Starbucks.