What’s New?


As we head into the 2022-2023 school year, there’s been a lot of new developments and changes around the campus, from teachers, to organization, to the redone library. Most notably, there have been several new items and noticeable differences on the Newman schedule. The three main schedule differences are the additions of a third lunch, a test prep period, and block schedule days. 

     The new lunch squeezes into a slightly longer school day and pushes around the schedules. While in several years prior, the school functioned on a system of the 100s and 200s building having first lunch, and the 300s and 400s building having second lunch (switching during second semester of course), the new system now divides the floors in order to attempt to evenly distribute people in the lunches. Now, if a student is in the 200s floor, he or she has first lunch, if the student is in the 100s or 300s, he or she has second lunch, and if the student is in the 400s, PE, or band, he or she has 3rd lunch. Though it can be argued that it is somewhat difficult to remember what lunch one has, it is nothing students can’t get used to. However, the division of the lunches presents a problem. While the second lunch, the most  favorable time to  have lunch, holds the usual amount of people, the third lunch holds slightly less than that amount. First lunch, meanwhile, holds a single floor’s worth of students. Students have also complained about the time the lunches occur, with first lunch seeming too early, and third lunch being too late. Personally, I agree with the student opinions and find myself not hungry in the first lunch and very hungry by the third lunch. However, I do enjoy that the outside tables located on the sidewalks leading to the gym and cafeteria hold less students in some of the lunches. The issue of the lunches tie in directly with the new test prep period. 

     The new “test prep” period is a 35-minute academically focused session that on Tuesdays, consists of diagnostic practice on IXL to assist students with preparing for the SAT. On paper, this sounds very useful, and indeed it does help practice with SAT-style questions. However, on the days that the IXL practice sessions are not occurring, the period serves only as a focused study hall. This period of time typically occurs around lunch, and is spent in the fourth period classroom of the day. Yet, as a student who has been here for three years, I recognize a similarity between the new test prep period and an abolished previous period: flex time. For newer students, flex time, colloquially known as “flex,” was a 20-minute period after lunch. The period essentially functioned as a spare amount of time students and teachers alike could use for whatever purpose they required, from sleeping, to doing homework and studying, to holding club meetings, or even just going between classes and teachers to ask questions and meet up with friends. Flex time was removed and replaced with the homeroom period in the 2021-2022 school year on the grounds that it allowed tardy students to be late to school without being late to a first period class, while also allowing first period classes to begin without using up class time taking attendance. I thought that was a bad idea, but that’s a thing of the past now. This year, we now have both homeroom and test prep, which serves as a kind of balance between the two systems. After the first week, I think the idea of a study hall to do homework is useful, and I have been productive during the periods. However, I think the period would also be helpful if students were allowed to move between classes to talk to other teachers just like flex, and clubs and band/chorus rehearsals could happen during the period. I see how flex caused order and cleanliness issues, but its versatility proved extremely helpful when I was a freshman. Secondly, in tandem with lunch, I think test prep should at least be a little shorter to give more time for lunch. Most of the time at lunch, students and teachers barely have enough time to eat. If the worry is that students will be rowdy during test prep, at the very least let them have enough time to socialize and let out that energy during lunch, rather than in class. Other than that, I don’t mind the existence of test prep.

     The final new addition to the new school schedule is the appearance of block days on Wednesdays and Thursdays. During the block days, in contrast to the regular days, there are three 80-minute blocks and one 40-minute period at the end of the day, split between the two block days to allow that unlucky class to get its fair share of the 80-minute productivity of the other classes that week. This all runs on a rotation schedule. I actually think this is a very good idea, it allows science classes to conduct thorough and productive labs, allows AP classes to take the necessary time to conduct longer tests and essays, and generally allows every class to make more progress without the constant settling down and getting up again. And, to my surprise, I’ve found that I actually have less homework on those days. While the periods become very tiring and hard to concentrate in, little breaks within the period set by the teachers has allowed them to be bearable to a lot of students. Out of everything new this year, I actually think the block periods are very useful.

     Overall, it may take a little bit of time to get used to the new parts of the school. My favorite new addition is the block days, but I think with improvement, test prep could also become a very helpful part of the school. I look forward to see what’s next, in the year when “what’s new,” will be “what’s old.” Here’s to the new school year!