All bands meet

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With a new bell schedule now in effect, teachers, students and administrators spent the early weeks of September adjusting to change. The community’s response is decidedly mixed, with the issues of time management, homework, and public transportation drawing the strongest reactions.

The current schedule consists of forty minute bands meeting everyday and eliminates enrichment as a mandatory component of teacher schedules. It became official after a series of meetings, negotiations, and an official vote late last school year. The previous schedule included fifty minute bands meeting four times a week (though certain classes met for forty minutes five times a week) with mandatory after school enrichment for teachers.

Timing quickly became an issue as the school year began, with some teachers finding it difficult to adjust to shortened bands.

English teacher and Assistant Principal of Humanities Rafal Olechowski said he often ran out of time during classes and thus has had to adjust his “internal teaching clock.”

“I’ve been putting the end time of the class on the board to be more mindful,” he said. “My lesson plans have to be recalibrated and even rewritten. Things that initially inspired lessons now demand more time.”

Music and Japanese teacher Mariko Sato also prefers longer bands in terms of her music classes. She finds it difficult to teach them with shorter bands because a considerable amount of class time is already used attending to equipment.

“It’s also hard with my AP Music Theory class because they’re very pressed for time,” she adds.

Students and teachers have expressed that the new schedule is somewhat monotonous.

“There’s a simplistic regularity about the new schedule, which can be boring,” continued Mr. Olechowski. “I spend less energy teaching, but it’s more consistent. [The schedule] requires a different type of energy. I have to pace myself now.”

Freshman Eileen Jimenez, who said her middle school had different classes on different days, also finds the new schedule to be tedious.

“The schedule is so repetitive. I have gym everyday on the first floor and then I have to go to the sixth floor. It’s exhausting, and I’m always scared I’ll be late. There’s no variety.”

However, others see advantages in shortened bands.

Although Social Studies teacher Charlene Levi prefers fifty minute bands, she admits that seeing her classes everyday facilitates scheduling homework and tests so that her classes move at the same pace.

Classical Languages teacher Andrew Hagerty enjoyed certain aspects of both schedules.

“I thought the old schedule was unnecessarily complicated but it made the school unique. I do see advantages of a less complicated schedule—it does away with certain problems like scheduling tests and homework.”

Still others are unaffected by the new schedule. Junior Woo Jung Yi doesn’t mind the new schedule because the homework level is the same and shortened bands make the days seem faster.

“I honestly don’t see a change,” she said.

A new policy designed to compensate for the previous system of missing each class once per week has also sparked mixed reviews from students, although teachers are largely indifferent to it. The policy requires teachers to give homework only four times a week with each assignment taking no more than thirty minutes to complete.

Mr. Hagerty commented, “The homework policy is fair. In the end it’s for students and doesn’t affect me as a teacher, but standing up and saying ‘no homework today’ makes me popular for a second, which is nice.”

Junior Nijah Phills feels that the mandatory AP U.S. History outlines defy the new policy, with each taking well over thirty minutes.

“Teachers get around the policy by assigning more homework, but making it due in two days,” she said.

Mr. Olechowski predicts that some subjects will end up taking more time to finish homework for than others.

Students have also expressed concern that they won’t be able to attend tutoring now that enrichment is no longer required for teachers.

Junior Lina Rob said, “What if teachers are busy when we have lunch? It doesn’t work out.”

Students have also complained that the earlier arrival and later dismissal disrupt their daily commute because public transportation is fuller and there is more traffic at these times.

“It really interferes with the MTA schedule, and I end up getting home much later,” said junior Meraldina Ziljkic.

Students on athletic teams find that the later dismissal interferes with team practices and competitions, with members often getting home much later than before. “I have to rush to Brooklyn everyday for practice, and we end up getting only an hour in the pool because it’s so late,” said junior and swim team member Ariana Stergiou.

Junior Paula Fraczek, a member of the soccer team, said that the team often doesn’t have time to warm up before games after school and noticed that practices tend to last shorter.

Generally, however, seniors have been unaffected by the new schedule because of their extensive free bands. Senior Annie Medina feels like the schedule “affects underclassmen more.”

Overall, Mr. Barbetta finds that the schedule has been successful so far: “I don’t have any strong feelings about it. But from what I’ve observed and what I’ve asked students and teachers, it’s been a smooth transition. I have not received any problems, but it’s early.”

Although Spanish teacher Beatriz Ezquerra finds shortened bands difficult for her AP classes, she thinks that “it’s all a question of getting used to it.”

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