It is Monday morning and I arrive just in time to the first of my seven classes for the day. Sitting in my chair, I glance at the clock as the first few minutes of the period go by. Within a blink of an eye, I hear the electronic tone of the school bell signaling the end of the class. Wait, what happened? How did time pass so quickly? Much to my displeasure, the teacher asks us to stay a few more minutes during the passing period, attempting to finish the lesson. Shoving my notes together and throwing my binders into my backpack, I sprint across campus to get to my next class on time, ready to repeat this same tiresome process all over again.
When the school week begins with a seven period day, students start with a bad attitude. C-days are stressful and tiring, with seven periods in almost eight straight hours — it is class after class, different subjects every hour, and loads of homework due each time. When I reach seventh period, I don’t even want to look at anything academic, let alone focus on learning. Once I get home after a long school day, I am so physically and mentally drained that it’s almost impossible for me to do homework.
As discussed in the administration’s Jan. 30 letter addressed to the Palo Alto High School community, the administration plans to “take small steps to reduce stress” possibly including eliminating C-day schedules. To achieve a greater impact in our educational and personal experience, the administration should expedite the idea of a schedule without C-days. In addition to reducing stress, having more block periods (90-minute long classes) will encourage productivity and a better learning environment; if we have the opportunity to increase the amount of learning time and to benefit students’ mental health, we should take it as soon as possible.
When it comes to efficient learning block periods are superior to C-day periods because 50 minutes are far too short for effective learning. While C-days may not seem that bad initially, I find that classes after brunch and lunch are harder to settle into. Many students often take about five minutes to calm down from adrenaline rushes that they get during breaks and then waste another five minutes spacing out in anticipation of the end of class. During block periods, not only do we have more time to make up for our poor attention span, but students are also able to settle into the class and thus actively learn more. Block periods are better for a student’s educational achievement, which is shown by many education analyzers including David Stader’s “Block Scheduling in Small High Schools: Perceptions from the Field.”
Having all block periods means only three to four classes which reduces a student’s nightly workloads because of the fewer deadlines the next day. This translates to more time to be taken advantage of for studying, for extracurriculars and most importantly, for R&R (rest and recuperation). While the work assigned is still equal to that of C-days, block days offer a flexible afterschool life
Although eliminating C-days may change the balance of our weekly schedule, we can alternate between even and odd days. This means that one week would start odd blocks, and the next Monday would start with even blocks. Each Monday would then be followed by the usual block schedule we already have. Therefore, two school weeks would have an equal balance of classes.
C-days are very unpopular with the Paly community. They create pressure, rush students and teachers and most harmfully, lead to unnecessary stress. Now that the Paly administration is considering the end of C-days, I believe that Paly is taking a big step in the right direction, and that it would be an important and positive change for us as a community. I can only hope that this will begin in the new school year. But for now, as I cram seven binders into my backpack, I tell myself that I must shoulder on.