Freedom Revoked (Or really?): Structured Free Periods for Underclassmen

By: Emily Amjad

Those fifty minutes really do fly by when chatting in the student center or laying around in the hallway during a free period. But if used efficiently, fifty minutes of working at school could mean going to bed before the sun rises and maybe an extra long hot shower. That is the goal of the new free period system being implemented for next year’s freshman class.

Because of a change in the P.E. requirements, the Class of 2017 found themselves with more free time than usual this year. Combine more frees with more students and that can make for a noisy and unproductive work environment in the student center. Additionally, the administrators decided that the freshman need a little extra help with getting work done – a more tangible transition from middle school to Upper School.

This is not going to be a forced work period similar to the highly hands-on middle school conferences. Mrs. Sommerfeld in the admission office says that it is only a way of “[teaching the students] how to use their free time” to the best of their advantage in order to raise grades and hammer in smart habits. While the goal of the system is to help students work better and manage time, the freshman can still squander their free periods, if they so chose. The system is here to help reinforce discipline, but it is up to the student what she choses to do with her time. Mrs. Sadler shares that the “hope is that this helps in the transition from eighth to ninth grade… because many students struggle with what to do during their free time and it usually takes the first semester to realize that it’s important to use your free periods as well.” In addition to that, many freshman don’t realize that the GPA they receive for the first semester actually is taken into account for things like Cum Laude and college applications.

Roughly 85% of the incoming freshman class will have a schedule deemed “normal” by Ms. Godshall: five core class and one or two extracurriculars. In those typical cases, the study hall periods will max out at two per rotation. For the other 15% who chose to double in various classes or take extra electives, only one free will be required to be spent supervised in the library. No students will have study halls during Xs or labs.

The upperclassmen don’t need to worry that their frees will be spent with loud packs of freshman festering on every surface in the library, either. There will only be about ten girls per free and Ms. Godshall made sure to note that “we’ll keep a really close eye” on those in the study halls so that they aren’t distracting and bothersome. In addition, plans to reconfigure the library may be looming in the future, but as of right now nothing is for sure. The study hall proctors may find that they need more individual desks, separated from one another, or more tables. This system will continue to be a work in progress and an experiment for the 2014-2015 school year.

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