The Gregory School administration made significant changes to the daily schedule at the start of the 2014 school year. Head of School Dr. Julie Sherrill and a scheduling committee are responsible for the shorter day that begins even earlier at 7:50 AM and ends at 2:30 PM.
The schedule remains at odds with many teenage students’ sleep schedules and the recent recommendation of the American Acadeny of Pediatrics that all classes should begin no earlier than 8:30 AM. The earlier start has resulted in an uptick in morning latenesses and more severe consequences for late students, including weekend detentions.
While the school kept its signature block schedule with four classes per day and eight blocks in total, the administration reduced the number of rotating days to just two. A student will have the same four classes one day, but the next day they will have their next four classes.
In the past, classes began at 8:00 or 9:00 AM, ending at 2:50 or 3:30 PM, with an optional tutorial period after school where students could meet with their instructors. This year began with a mandatory tutorial during the first part of lunch for Upper School and during the second part for Middle School students.
Upper School students criticized the mandatory delay as unnecessary and unproductive. After consulting with the student council, Sherrill modified the tutorial requirement for students with a GPA above 3.0 and swapped Middle and Upper School student lunch.
Middle school students now report to tutorial at 12:05 PM as Upper School students head to the cafeteria for lunch; an optional Upper School tutorial rounds out the hour lunch period as middle schoolers get their lunch during the second half of the hour. The Fifth grade also has a free recess where they can go and play.
Upper School classes dismiss thirty minutes earlier than last year; middle school students get out a full hour earlier. This change was made to avoid conflicts with athletic competitions held at far away schools. Freshman Addison Mort said, “Ending earlier is much better. It helps if you have a lot more stuff to do in the afternoon.”
The administration also eliminated weekly late starts, replacing them with a monthly 11:00 AM start that lets out at 2:30 PM. Classes are just 40 minutes long to allow for faculty professional development led by history department chair Dr. Michelle Berry. Significant confusion arose about lunch periods during these late starts days, since there is only a 30 minute break and brunch is served before class.
A new after-school Encore block for classes was also introduced this year. This new Encore block occurs after school from 2:35 pm to 3:45 pm. Nine Encore classes are offered, including AP Biology Lab, Yearbook, Yoga, and Italian.
According to Sherrill, the changes were made to accommodate the wide range of student interests. Sherrill said, “Encore is just what I call a pilot experience to see if we can offer additional classes that students want to take, but without adding another constraint to what is already a really tight schedule.”
In the future, Sherrill hopes to expand the offerings during Encore, including classes like Marine Biology, German, and Madarin. Other in the administration expressed concern about the earlier start time after learning about the medical ramifications of early classes for teenage students.
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