What do students think about the block schedule?

More stories from Casey Kenreich


Photo courtesy of Walter Johnson High School

There are many pros and cons when it comes to the 1st semester block schedule. While it provides more free time, which can be a positive, it also causes problems for students who rely on interactions with their peers and teachers.

You wake up blinking an eye at your alarm clock and it says 8:00 a.m. For a split second, your head fills with nervous energy as you realize you slept in on a school day. However, you remember that you’re on a block schedule and school starts later. Today, you look forward to having only four classes and a long lunch break. Then, you realize you might not stay awake for your hour long classes, nor do you look forward to an influx of homework and self-learning, afterwards. With the adoption of a new block-schedule, you and others have likely pondered over whether you were better off last year with the old schedule.
For upperclassmen, more free time can be especially valuable to maximize academic performance in rigorous classes. In addition, they can capitalize on extra free time to bolster their college applications.
“I can really focus on doing homework for all my AP classes and have actual time to study for stuff…I want to learn more about,” junior Adrian Marquez said.
Also, the block schedule is improving aspects of both physical and mental health. More sleep and less daily stress are benefits that sophomore Sara Laubach attributed to the block schedule.
In addition, students need a break from the chaotic school environment. “At least for me, it’s easier to focus,” sophomore Julianna Romero said.
To others, the block schedule feels like an unneeded extension of an already long school day.
“It feels like days last longer with longer classes,” Laubach said.

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Others argue there is a greater sense of urgency to turn in schoolwork. “It sometimes feels like we are rushing to get work done because we only have two classes,” sophomore Max Ferguson from Rockville High School said.
Despite the lack of interaction throughout the week, shortening classes to their usual duration may not be beneficial either.
“Although it would be nice, shorter classes would make online school harder,” Ferguson said.
For high school students with siblings in different grades, the process is further complicated. Elementary and middle school students have entirely different schedules. “I think it’s kind of problematic when you have more than one person who is enrolled in MCPS but is in elementary school because you may have completely different break times and it confuses some parents,” sophomore Nathan Rein said.
Others express gratitude just for being able to continue learning, regardless of the format.
“I’m just happy that we can get an education and we still have a somewhat organized system to go by for virtual school…the students and staff of WJ are going to need all they can get during these testing times,” sophomore Aberaham Altaye said.
Across the country, other school districts in different states adopted block schedules. It is a dramatic change from the status quo but some feel the benefits may outweigh the costs in the long run.
“The block schedule could reduce student anxiety, mirror the college experience, align better with dual enrollment and result in fewer tardies,” Journalist Blakeley Bartee of the Aiken Standard newspaper in South Carolina said.