Sophomore Evan Karetsos pleads for free periods as he struggles to get his work done on time. Photo: Mary Childs Hall

This upcoming school year, a major change will occur affecting the everyday schedule for the Upper School. After major discussion and numerous meetings, the faculty has crafted a new schedule, eliminating free periods from the equation to make it possible for all academic and elective classes to meet each day.

Previously, the schedule was an eight-day rotating schedule with six classes per day. Potentially two of these classes were free periods, where students had the opportunity to take a break from their strenuous courses to either get a snack or get caught up on homework. Students would drop two periods each day, sometimes being two academic classes, meaning the day only consisted of their frees, few actual classes and an elective, or practically a workless school day.

One major reason for this change is that teachers were frustrated by losing class time with classes rotating out. Teachers would have to rush their teaching to get everything in before the big exams, especially with AP classes, or have to skip entire units in their lesson plans. “The previous schedule made teachers lose valuable time and made it far more difficult to teach all of the information that we need,” said English teacher Bailey Player. “I even had to remove two books from my curriculum this school year because of a shortage of time. Not being able to teach these books was disappointing to not only me, but also to some of my students.”

The decision to surrender free periods was also necessary as students were not properly taking advantage of their free time and rather squandering it with frivolous and immature activities. Although students could be in the library working on their science homework during their free periods, most students choose to play on their phones or watch Netflix in the Inman Center or Seaman Family Commons. “I don’t think I have ever worked on homework during a free period,” said junior Andrew Neville. “Why would I use this time to do more school work when I could watch YouTube videos and hang out with my friends instead?”

However, some students who need this time to finish their studying because of after school conflicts and other important work, are extremely embittered by the new ruling. “How am I going to get my homework done and study for all of my AP courses without free periods next year?” said sophomore Austin Chastain. “Yesterday I dropped both of my free periods, and I didn’t go to bed until 3 a.m. because I had to spend the whole night grinding. I even had to wake up an hour earlier this morning to finish my chemistry homework.”

A group of parents and students have met together in hopes of revolting against the loss of free periods by protesting. “I have received over 50 emails in the past few days, with parents complaining and saying that they are going to pull their students from Pace just because of the schedule change,” said Head of School Fred Assaf. “I understand that people are concerned, but the new schedule was needed because of the poor decisions that students have been making during their free periods and their failure to utilize their time effectively.”

The 2019-2020 school year will have numerous changes with new teachers, new courses and another group of new students, but the major difference will be the new schedule. Students will have to quickly adjust in order to keep up in their classes and have a successful school year.

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