Wednesday, make some more room

Editorial Board

The past month of school has gone, for the most part, excellently. The feeling of being back in a classroom, surrounded by our peers and teachers, as if we have some certainty and regularity back in our lives, is wonderful.
However, we cannot help but note some serious problems with the layout of our new schedule, which clearly reveals the school’s priorities in a rather unbecoming way.

While academic classes are of course the first priority, the idea that basically everything else could be shoved into a four-hour period on Wednesday is frankly absurd. Well, not everything else—athletics get the time they need.

At first glance, the Wednesday schedule seems perfectly fine. Four blocks replacing the four X blocks we typically have during the week? It’s not ideal, but nothing during this pandemic is. That should be plenty of time for clubs to meet. But wait, hang on a minute. Class meeting time has suddenly doubled. Advisory has been added. First block is now gone.

OK, three blocks should work, right? Most people aren’t in more than three clubs. We’re only made to join three freshman year. Actually, no. Orchestra, Chorale, acapella, and numerous jazz ensemble now all practice on Wednesdays, even though these are actual classes. Orchestra and Chorale typically meet for two hours a week and are now shoved into one block lasting half that time. Student musicians participate in these activities
for credit and receive grades. Rehearsals are not optional meetings that can be easily dropped or skipped from week to week. So now over 70 musicians have lost at least one other Wednesday block, leaving maybe two blocks open for clubs. (However, several students take more than one performing
arts class, so they have even less time available.)

And if those didn’t create enough organizational issues, senior college visits also occur on Wednesdays. So now seniors, who are club leaders and must attend meetings in order for their clubs to function, are double- or triple-scheduled. This is an impossible situation for the student body. How are freshmen supposed to get involved when 15 clubs are meeting at once? How can sophomores and juniors continue commitment to the clubs they love? And how can seniors possibly lead them?

We cannot help but notice that this Wednesday jumble is a huge problem for clubs and arts, but not for sports. The “school day” on Wednesday ends at 12:20 p.m. so that all teams can practice with all grades together. Overall, student athletes get three practices a week and, starting last week, a gameday on Saturday—which, all in all, yes, is certainly a loss, but still allows them to operate. Some reasons for this early finish on Wednesday
are understandable. Because social distancing requirements limit bus use, Buckingham Field is no longer accessible, meaning fewer teams can practice at the same time than in the past. Furthermore, school buildings close at 5:15 p.m. to allow for nightly cleaning protocols, according to Chief Operating Officer Tara Gohlmann.

However, this five-hour period after block four is extremely valuable time, and while allowing teams to conduct full practices seems like an admirable goal, the accommodation comes at the expense of both classes and other extracurriculars. Had the school waited until 3:30 p.m., when the other academic weekdays end, to begin sports on Wednesdays, the
scheduling crunch would not exist. Even more confusing is the additional fact that this time after 12:20 p.m. has been left available so that games can potentially occur. We have to note the large steps that have been taken to create competition opportunities when no such administrative problem-
solving is evident for the visual and performing arts predicament. How has it been possible to schedule field hockey games, in which 18 players run around, breathing heartily, and yet no contingency plan has been made to hold music rehearsals in the cold or rain? Something seems wrong here.

Point blank, if we at The Vanguard operated our club (yes, this paper is a club) within the time frame the school gave us, the newspaper you are currently reading would not exist. There would be no way for us to publish at the same volume and quality that we would like. Luckily, we can make meetings work virtually, outside of normal school hours, but other clubs are
not so fortunate. That clubs and art classes are restricted to three hours on a Wednesday when the whole afternoon is left open for sports shows where school priorities lie. We ask the school to recognize that, on top of academics and at their behest, we students are involved in arts and clubs in addition to
sports. All these activities deserve the time they need to operate.