Administration plans to let Sixth Formers out of ASB

Students working in Severinghaus Library – Pierce Laveran ’24

Since its inception, many students have questioned the purpose of the Academic Support Block (ASB). When interviewed last spring, the administration revealed that they were hesitant to provide students with a free block instead of ASB, citing frequent misuse of student’s time during ASB. But now, the administration is making plans to open ASB up to the Sixth Form. 

“[The administration] wanted to set a solid foundation for routines and expectations for the year, and now that we are well into the school year, we think it’s time,” Upper School Head Mr. Mark Fifer said.

Mr. Fifer said that the Sixth Form’s performance in the first two months of the school year has made the administration more confident in freeing the period. 

“I think we are now ready, based on a really solid start from the Sixth Form—in terms of them taking care of their community and individual expectations—for us to think really seriously about flexible attendance for ASB,” Mr. Fifer said. “[The administration is] currently working on the parameters for that.”

Calls from the Sixth Form to free up their ASB have never been louder; but for them, the question is not “if” but “when.”

“I feel like seniors shouldn’t be required to attend ASB after the first semester,” Sixth Former Brady Stalkamp said. “Once you get to the second semester of your senior year, you’re really not doing as much.”

Stalkamped cited the infamous “senioritis” as part of his argument.

“Once ‘senioritis’ kicks in, no one’s gonna be doing as much,” Stalkamp said. “It’s not like we would be doing much productive work during ASB anyway.”

Sixth Former Ryan Brewington agrees. He believes it is unrealistic for Sixth Formers to be required to sit in ASB.

“No one in college is going to force us to sit in a study hall,” Brewington said. “It’s in [the Sixth Form’s] best interest to learn how to effectively manage free time.”

The administration may not have to worry about students using their time unproductively.

“Personally, there wouldn’t be much of a change to what I do during that time period, whether ASB is or isn’t required,” Brewington said. 

Stalkamp, however, would use ASB differently.

“I’d probably go get food,” Stalkamp said. 

Stalkamp also said he would use the time to socialize with his friends.

“Soon, we won’t be able to hang out with them anymore when senior projects happen and everyone is gone,” Stalkamp said. “This is the last little bit of time we have left with each other before we have to leave for college and not see each other for another four or five years.”

Sixth Formers may not have to wait until the end of the first semester to be let out of ASB. 

“As of right now, we’re hopefully expecting to let seniors out of ASB as soon as November 14th,” Mr. Fifer said.

“If multiple students exhibit a pattern of violations of school rules, like not coming to advisory, disruptions in community spaces, these privileges can and will be removed.”

Upper School Head Mr. Mark Fifer

He also warned Sixth Formers that their newly gained privileges would be just that: privileges. 

“If multiple students exhibit a pattern of violations of school rules, like not coming to advisory, disruptions in community spaces, these privileges can and will be removed,” Mr. Fifer said.

He also listed several requirements for Sixth Form students when the new policy is put in place.

“Attendance at ASB can still be required by a teacher,” Mr. Fifer said. “If the student is passed a deadline or is missing work in the class, they will be required to attend ASB.”

The upper school office also reserves the power to mandate ASB for both individuals and all Sixth Formers at any time. 

Depending on how the new policy is received, other forms may have a chance at earning freedom from ASB as well.

“Right now it is a Sixth Form privilege. Could there be graduated attendance for other forms in the spring? We are not closing the door on that,” Mr Fifer said. “I’m also not saying it’s going to happen.”