By Duncan Lumia
The ever-asked first bell question is in peril of extinction: “what kind of day is it today?” Of course, the possible answers flow through the mind with such ease, the letters having been pressed into the Sem student’s mind like the days of the week. But strange to think that, next year, the rising freshman class will spend their entire Sem careers alien to the letters T, L, E, or A-60 (to which many veterans might call “nap time”). The anticipated 2017-2018 schedule change is set to be a drastic change in school culture, but for better or worse? A winter test run of the 7-day alternating schedule sought to answer some of the many questions students and faculty had: “Will I really have more free time?” “What about lunch?” “Is change really all that necessary?”
Leading up to the test run, many students were apprehensive of what was to come. Many students enjoyed their routine. Afterall, they created it anyway. Fear grew that the new schedule would limit students’ opportunities to personalize their schedule. Some enjoyed setting aside time in the middle of the day knowing they could have a longer lunch. Others personalized their schedule to sleep in. On the other end, some students took 8th bell free to end the day early. This direct personal involvement in one’s own schedule was set to disappear with the new rotating schedule. Fundamentally, it was the lack of predictability that spurred many students to a fear of change. Sure, the new schedule might offer a student more free time in the morning on a certain, random time. But no longer can that student individualize their schedule to consistency.
These and other fears in mind, students prepared themselves for the great wave of change. However, very quickly, these apprehensions seemed to melt away. It was almost as if a set of shackles had been released from the ankles of those who took the same path to the same class at the same time, every day. Students like senior Gabe Pascal praised the “increase in variability” of the rotating schedule, a welcomed variety opposed to the military style of the old way. Many others like junior Eli Idec agreed, welcoming the change in class times as a “refreshment.”
Students around campus were eager to applaud the new schedule, especially for the free time it generates for social interaction and completing homework. Junior Olivia Meuser asserted that “I was so much less stressed than I usually was because I felt I had so much time to do stuff at school.” A great majority shared her belief, like sophomore Lucas Barnak who had “more time to unwind.” The longer lunch bell, too, alots more essential time for students to take a break from the rigorous academics throughout the day. Although, many students and faculty dreaded the idea of an all-school lunch period. On paper, it seemed to resemble a bell-5 lunch on steroids, but in testing it, a lot of community members found it agreeable. Meuser feared the lunch lines would be “terrible and chaotic,” but because there was so much time, she was able to “do homework and like, stuff.”
The schedule culture at Sem, to close, likens itself to Plato’s famous Allegory of the Cave. Knowing nothing other than the old schedule, students accepted it simply because it was there. However, after being exposed to a new reality during the test run period, the aforementioned shackles disintegrated. With it, the one-way mindset of the community vanished. Now, as students begin to marvel at the great positivity of this switch, in an area thought unchangeable until recently, what great dogma of the school may next be challenged next? The floodgates are open. There now exists a tremendous student awareness that there is possibility to change unfavorable aspects of the school. With something so very establishment such as the schedule now uprooted, what other ancient tenets of Wyoming Seminary are subject to scrutiny, and perhaps, dare it be said, change.