Gabe Martinez ’24
At the beginning of the year, the administration released the regular weekly schedule for the 2023-24 school year. Some of the schedule remained relatively the same, as Monday and Wednesday are mostly unchanged and the school day still ends at 3:15.
So what did the school change? Compared to last year, there are three changes that caused major debate within the SAES community.
Firstly, Morning Meeting. In the new schedule, Morning Meeting starts at 8:40 instead of 8:45. This change has proven popular with teachers, with many arguing that the earlier start gave breathing room for students to arrive at their morning classes on time.
Dr. Gamble, a history teacher in the Upper School, was very enthusiastic about the earlier start time, saying, “I certainly feel less rushed […] We’ve not had any Morning Meetings run into the start of that first period class.” However, students tell a different story. Sophomore Nicole Pathak takes the bus every day, and often arrives late to Morning Meeting. “8:45 was a bit nicer because I had more time,” says Pathak, “often my bus is pretty late to school, because we do live in a pretty trafficked area.” While the earlier Morning Meeting has proven beneficial to the teachers, students, particularly those that take the bus, are disadvantaged because they may arrive later to school, causing them to miss parts of Morning Meeting.
Secondly, Chapel. With this year’s schedule moving Chapel Day from Friday to Thursday, many longtime students find it off-putting. For example, freshman Drew Hirschfeld who joined the St. Andrew’s Community in middle school said, “It’s really weird.” He continued by saying that, “it really doesn’t matter a ton, but I’ve been here for like, three years and it’s always been on Friday.” Chaplain Isaacs continues to welcome students to Chapel Day, but to Hirschfeld ‘27, “it doesn’t feel like Chapel Day” because of this alteration.
While many students were left scratching their heads as to why Chapel Day was moved, Mr. McMillen, a teacher involved in creating the new schedule, explained that the change was for a specific reason. “One of the goals we had was to not have as many special schedule weeks.” Mr. McMillen stated that, “some of the changes that we’ve made should help. He said “Moving Chapel to Thursday is one of the biggies.”
Finally, there are 20 minute transition periods, which are surprisingly popular among teachers. Ms. Koons, an English teacher in the Upper School, has enjoyed the 20 minute transition period, but she thinks we all should “live into it” a little more. She said, “A lot of us, teachers and students, aren’t remembering it.” She further stated, “I think we’ll enjoy it once we live [with it] a little bit longer, and it’ll be interesting to see the way student groups might use it.”
Dr. Gamble also believes that students can use the time to connect with each other, saying that “it’s good, we know that during the day, students […] need both the mental break and [are] craving actually talking with each other.” He explained that students often use the transition time to connect with their friends, and with the regular five to 10 minute transition periods, conversations can bleed over into class. Dr. Gamble also talked about how it benefits teachers, as “20 minutes is just enough time for us [teachers] to sit down, gather our thoughts, and prep.” The most conflict regarding this change has emerged from the students, with many disagreeing about whether or not it should remain. Senior Jake Lehrman described the 20 minute transition period as unnecessary, and proposed “mak[ing] it a 10 minute transition period and end[ing] class 10 minutes earlier.” Sophomore Nicole Pathak also had conflicted feelings about the 20 minute transition periods. On one hand, she enjoys the time because it allows her to “peace out”, go outside, and talk to friends. However, she says that 20 minutes, for her, is not enough time to engage in club activities. She gave the example of the SGA Donut Sales, explaining that SGA officers had to set up, make the sales, clean up, and head to their classes all in 20 short minutes.
Other students really enjoy the 20 minute transition period, though, like Freshman Drew Hirschfeld. “The 20 minute break is the greatest thing that has ever been created,” he emphasizes. He explains that it gives him time to relax and unwind after a long day, especially because he has a study hall that is augmented by the long break.
There are other changes within the schedule that have garnered unanimous approval or disapproval within the community. A universally disliked change has been the Activity Periods, which are now on Tuesdays and Fridays rather than Tuesdays and Thursdays. Mr. Ferriby, head of the science department, said that the change led to more clubs meeting on Tuesdays, meaning that students in multiple clubs have to choose between going to one or the other, a decision that harms overall turnout. Five-minute transition periods have been similarly criticized, with students and teachers agreeing that it’s just not enough time to get from one class to the next. One universally liked change, though, has been moving the advisory period from Tuesdays and Thursdays to Tuesdays and Fridays, with the adjustment receiving no criticisms from neither students nor teachers.
Overall, while the new schedule has provoked much discussion within the community, most are generally pleased with how the schedule has turned out, and are looking forward to seeing what’s next.
Photograph via St. Andrew’s Episcopal School