We all remember that one week with no block days on Wednesday and Thursday, probably the longest-feeling seven days we’ve ever experienced in our high school careers. Each night was stuffed with homework, and the lack of sleep made us all fatigued the next day. It was quite a vicious cycle: a boring schedule that lacked any bit of diversity. Unfortunately, it’s not very different from our normal schedule, where the routine is onerous. To improve students’ academic experience with more variety and less exhausting workload, we should experiment with a new schedule that could provide more variety for students in their high school careers.
Several other schools have a bell schedule with variety, where students aren’t confined to having every class three out of the five days at school. At Menlo School, for example, students follow an A-G schedule, where each day students would only go to their first five classes (A-E) and periods F and G would carry over as the first two periods the next day. This way, each day consists of classes in an order different from the previous one. For Andrew Buchanan, a senior at Menlo School, this class schedule makes school interesting.
“Having a schedule that isn’t a routine changes the way I prepare for classes,” Andrew said. “I can’t imagine it any other way; I have a different period at a given time for every day in the week, and it completely takes away the redundancy of going to high school.”
Having a different schedule not only takes the load off the mind, but also the shoulders.
“The variety helps my attention span, and it would suck having to carry all my textbooks to school every day for all my classes,” Andrew said.
According to one of Menlo’s school counselors Traci Bianchi, this A-G rotation allows for students to not miss the same class every afternoon for an art or athletic event. In turn, students are overall more on track in their classes instead of falling behind in a single class.
“Our main focus was to reduce the stress and increase their success of managing [students’] classes and extracurricular activities,” Bianchi said.
And this is Menlo, one of the top schools in the country. One cannot refute the fact that a Menlo education is an education worth the price—they have to be doing something right.
Students at LAHS would similarly benefit from a more varied schedule.
“I feel like it would be less stress if we had something similar to the Menlo schedule,” senior Ideen Seyed said. “I think we would have more time to do stuff. We’d only have to worry about a few classes, because the rotating schedule would vary. I think people would do better work, and they wouldn’t have to stay up so late. Maybe in the future this would be a good thing.”
English teacher Margaret Bennett agrees that any varied schedule relieves stress for both students and teachers. Everyone is less frantic Bennett said, and by not having to prepare for the same class almost every single day, students can direct more attention to specific classes.
“Don’t you feel more relaxed when on Tuesday you know you don’t have that much homework due the next day?” Bennett said. “I think the stress level is markedly different on block days compared to those days where we have seven periods.”
From a teacher’s perspective, a varied schedule benefits the subjects that include more than lecturing and reading.
“For us, I think [changing the schedule] would be great,” Bennett said. “As an English teacher, and just academically, I think it could make a big difference for students.”
However, there are some downsides to having a rotating block schedule like Menlo. Oral repetition, a key component in foreign language classes, would not be practiced every day.
“There are weeks where you probably wouldn’t see your students for two or three days in a row, so that is what I see that could be problematic in that schedule,” Bennett said.
Menlo is also a private school and does not have to work within the constraints that public schools do. The MVLA district has done a lot of work to align the schedules between Los Altos and Mountain View High. Assistant Principal Galen Rosenberg said that changing the schedule is possible, but would require a significant effort from students and administrators.
“I think it’s certainly possible for us to look at and change the daily schedule like [that of Menlo’s],” Rosenberg said. “The challenge would be from the district’s point of view, [which is] it’s really important to them that both Mountain View and Los Altos have the same schedule.”
Creating a new schedule that works for everyone would be very difficult.
“The schedule we have currently is in itself a compromise,” Rosenberg said. “There is no perfect schedule.”
However, if students decide to move forward in an effort to create a new schedule, they have the tools. Students should begin the process by organizing into a group to speak to the administration. They are the ones who can begin the process of changing the schedule by voicing their concerns.
“Students have power, more than you realize,” Bennett said.