Next year’s schedule may allow for more flexibility

Hard copy of the course catalog for the 2021-2022 school year – Matthew Schwartz ’21

A new schedule affects almost every facet of school life, yet course registration and the scheduling process is most directly linked to the schedule, particularly early on. With almost all course-registration forms submitted on March 12, the process of assigning students classes for next year has begun, and the schedule’s layout has made the process less complicated than it was this year. 

     “In a schedule, it’s always recommended that you have one more block than the required number of courses for students to take, and we did not have that this year,” Registrar Ms. Karen Skidmore said. “[In] the quarter system for next year, we’re adding an extra carrier, an extra block, and that allows a lot more flexibility with where we can put things.”

     The new schedule, with its continuation of the quarter system and its new four-by-four model—four periods a day, four days in a rotation—will alter which classes students take, the difficulty of the classes they choose, and the number of electives offered. 

     “This model should allow us to increase the number of total sections because there will be fewer faculty members in leadership roles on a course reduction,” Head of Upper School Mr. Mark Fifer said. 

     This increase in the number of sections will allow more students to take electives. Mr. Fifer said that he “wanted to qualify  [predictions] in saying this is based upon projections right now” and that “it could change.” If everything goes according to plan, Mr. Fifer said, “[the schedule] is going to increase the number of students who have access to electives, particularly Fifth Form students, who typically don’t have access to certain electives because priority is given to Sixth Formers.”

     Ms. Skidmore agreed with Mr. Fifer.

     “Adding that extra carrier [block], that’s going to be significant when it comes to getting kids maybe their more preferred electives. It’s not as tight,” Ms. Skidmore said. 

     The new schedule will not only allow more students to get the electives they want; it will also make running electives easier for departments. 

     “The quarter schedule allows us to have a bit of flexibility,” the head of the Math Department Mr. Justin Gaudreau said. “In this schedule, especially with the four-by-four, they may be more able to run classes in a quarter block, one eight-week finite period, than there would have been in our old schedule two years ago.”

     The math department, Mr. Gaudreau said, “[has] been thinking about adding more mathematics electives, not only to our top students but to our standard level students who just have an interest in math.” 

      Next year, the department will finally be able to do this. They will add two more electives—the first a Logic class and the second a class on Math Modeling to Solve Social Challenges. These classes’ entry into the course catalog has been accelerated because the new schedule has made it easier to run electives. 

     This is just one example of how the schedule has changed the landscape of course registration. Another example is the difficulty of the classes students choose to take.

     “You will have fewer concurrent classes, so that might lead more students to feel as if they can navigate and manage concurrent honors classes and therefore they might be more inclined to push themselves to register for honors classes. But we’ll see,” Mr. Fifer said, referencing last Friday’s course registrations on Conference Day. 

     Fourth Former Charlie O’Brien has been able to push himself academically because he has fewer concurrent classes.

     “If [the classes] are broken up between quarters, I feel like I just have more time to focus on that subject instead of thinking about six little homework assignments I have in the old schedule,” O’Brien said. 

     “Honors history I got recommended for, but in a normal year, I don’t think I would have considered it,” O’Brien said. “But now I’m strongly considering it.”