At 3:05 p.m. every day, sixth grader Sarah returns home, seventh grader Jocelyn heads to advisory for study hall and eighth grader Meg treks down to the athletic center for field hockey practice.
This is all thanks to “flex-time” in the newly instituted Middle School schedule. Girls can now decide what time they go home at the end of each school day. If they choose to, fifth through eighth graders can go home as early as 3:05.
Flex-time, every afternoon from 3:05 to 3:45, replaces the second half of D period on odd days and advisory study hall on even days. Girls can go home, to sports practice, to private music lessons or to orchestra. They also still have the option of staying in advisory or receiving help from teachers.
When Head of Middle School Linda Kramer walks down the halls, she would see girls having trouble working independently in big study hall as well as advisory study hall. “This way, if you need to go home, you go home. If you need to work with a teacher, then there are fewer of you there, so you get more one on one time,” Kramer said.
Middle School math teacher Jenni Stout agrees that Middle School girls have trouble concentrating for 80 minutes straight. “Because there are not as many girls [during flex-time], I can spend more time individually with students who actually have questions—as opposed to students who are here because they have to be,” she said.
Some students, however, say that because there isn’t a fixed study hall time, they don’t feel the need to do homework in flex-time. “I feel like we don’t have enough study time anymore,” eighth grader Caroline said.
With the extra 30 minutes at the end of each day, Kramer hopes girls will use the extra time for family, extracurricular activities and ultimately to get to bed earlier.
Fifth and eighth grade parent Judi Stewart also finds it easier to schedule medical appointments earlier in the afternoon without having to “pull [her daughters] out of school during the day.”
Changing something as little as the last 30 minutes of the day has drastic effects. Kramer had to look into every department including boarding, athletics and orchestra to see how this change would affect each of them. “This was a huge shift and it touched so many people…I had meeting, after meeting, after meeting,” she said.
Sports are now from 3:30 to 5 p.m., allowing athletes home half of an hour earlier. Orchestra, however, had difficulty rescheduling.
“It would be honest to say it’s been a challenge for me and my students,” said Director of Middle School Orchestra Yung-Fang Ludford.
Orchestra has practices Day 3 during D periods and during flex-time on Fridays, the only day sports don’t practice. And on the rare instance Day 3 is on a Friday, orchestra will have to practice for 80 minutes straight.
Another factor girls and parents found difficult was carpool’s time range. If girls can’t be picked up between 3:05 and 3:25, they must wait until 3:45. “It’s not recess. You need to either be going home or doing something in the school,” Kramer said. “The biggest problem right now is communication with parents. But we are working that out.”
Stewart says that she had several conflicts with her daughters about pick up time during the first few weeks of school. But now because there are two carpools at two different times, the lines are shorter, move faster and ultimately helps Stewart get her girls where they need to be after school sooner.
Now that advisory study hall has been dissolved, advisories had to find another way to meet every day. With the exception of Friday due to break sales, advisories now meet every morning from 9:30 to 9:45, replacing free breaks on even days. Although the girls as well as teachers enjoy morning advisory every day, some wish they still had those extra 15 minutes of free time every other day.
“Free break was really nice because you could see friends who aren’t in your advisory,” Caroline said.
Eighth grader Gigi agrees, “We can’t really go to the ARC or bookstore anymore, unless it’s an emergency.”
Stout, however, enjoys morning advisory everyday with her girls. “I can build relationships with them faster unlike in afternoon study hall,” she said.
Although the new schedule has raised some difficulties, new options at the end of the day ultimately benefit the girls, and Kramer believes the schedule is here to stay.