Walpole Should Reevaluate Current Bell Schedule


Christian Carr-Locke

Principal Stephen Imbusch recently announced that next year’s schedule will be starting 15 minutes later. This change mirrors the country’s efforts to give teenagers more sleep, as late nights and early mornings prove to have a negative effect on students’ stress levels and participation within the classroom. The later start is a step in the right direction because it will invigorate the classroom setting and help decrease anxiety as students will be able to sleep longer.

Despite this small change, Walpole High School also needs to reevaluate and eventually change the overall format of the daily bell schedule. With students unable to pay attention for the full sixty-eight minutes of class and the lack of students that have study halls for even one semester, it is time for a change concerning different aspects of the school day in order to make a more efficient and attentive learning environment.

One of the main issues regarding classes at Walpole High School is the length of each class. Students often find themselves tired and unfocused toward the end of classes and the end of the school day, which ultimately affects how well they perceive the lesson for any given day. In addition, the beginning of some classes act as an educational buffer period where students chat with one another and teachers sometimes complete a last-minute preparation or simply take attendance and talk to students.

Many students feel that classes never seem to end and when they do there is often time to spare. Junior Tommy Wilber said, “As a student, it seems that teachers also find themselves with time left over after they finish their lessons, which sometimes leaves them with ten awkward minutes.”

That being said, the current length of classes is, in fact, beneficial for some teachers and students—at least those who effectively utilize the extra time. With these long classes, teachers can administer in-class essays and different writing assignments, alleviating the writing process for many students by not having to write for hours upon hours at home. In addition, teachers will occasionally let students get a jump-start on their homework, of which, for the most part, students take advantage.

However, in the grand scheme of things, shorter classes will not only be able to cover the same amount of material, but they will also coincide with a later start time.

Another issue with the current bell schedule is the lack of a flex period or an “X” block. For example, Sharon High School—ranked eleventh in the state by Boston Magazine—has incorporated a forty-minute period known to students as the “Eagle Block.” This period is intended for study hall purposes, as well as chorus, band, orchestra and designated ensembles.

If Walpole High School were to integrate this type of period into the daily schedule, students with all academic classes or students that participate in after school activities could take advantage of the offerings in the music or art departments or simply complete one class-worth of homework for the night ahead. In addition, this type of period would also act as a break for students during the day and allow for a more social setting—more so than a ten-minute snack period and lunch block allow.

Now, Sharon High School, like many other schools, does have a delayed start time of 8:05 and a finish time of 2:40; however, with the incorporated flex period, the new finish time does not affect how late students are up doing homework because they can do homework during their study hall.

Guidance Department Head Jennifer Dolan thinks the incorporation of an “X” block would greatly benefit students. In a recent interview  regarding a schedule change, Dolan explained that with such an adjustment students would have the opportunity to complete homework, seek extra help, or “simply relax.”

Students struggling in a particular academic area could meet with teachers or peer tutors during this time, instead of having to meet after school

—a hassle that often interrupts extracurriculars. Furthermore, this period would act as a time during which students could schedule meetings with their guidance counselors, replacing the current format where students have to leave or miss part of class in order to talk to their guidance counselor.   

If administration at Walpole High wants to reduce student stress levels and have a focused educational environment in which students remain alert throughout the course of the day, they need to recognize and act on the faults of the current daily bell schedule.