Block Party

As with every new school year, the 2022-2023 school year has brought about many new changes including a new schedule, known as modified block.

by Lina Kilgore, News and Sports Editor


The advent of the 2022-2023 school year brought many changes to the STA community including a new schedule that greatly differs from previous years, when students attended 40-minute classes all five days a week. 

The new schedule, known as a modified block, includes three days in which students have all of their classes for 40 minutes. For the remaining two days, students have half of their classes for 75 minutes one day, then switch to the other half the next day for the same period of time. These two days of 75-minute classes are known as block days.

The discussion of changing the schedule first began about four years ago, mainly among administration. Academic principal Barb McCormick has been a main figure in these discussions.

“In 2018, before the pandemic we were considering different ways of putting together the blocks of time for students because we saw programming really starting to take off with students needing to be able to shadow, do internships [and] get field experiences,” McCormick said. “ So to [provide those experiences], we knew our schedule was kind of limiting on that perspective.”

The initial discussion of changing to block schedule was dramatically halted with the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the outbreak’s various negative effects, McCormick eventually found it was the much-needed push to finally change the schedule. 

“The pandemic helped even push it [changing to block schedule] harder; people needed the opportunity to slow down and kind of breathe,” McCormick said.

Considering the many obstacles, McCormick found the road to changing the schedule to modified block very complicated, yet rewarding.

“It took some creativity and a lot of conversations,” McCormick said. “We had to hold off because the pandemic had come, so that took more conversations and some time for teachers to kind of recover as well as students. Then it was just taking a risk and saying, ‘let’s try a modified block.’”

When the new schedule, including the modified block, was officially announced, many students had mixed reactions to this seemingly extreme change. Freshman Julia Harbert recalls hearing about the schedule in the midst of her transition from grade school to high school.

“I was excited at first because that means I get to have a long math class and a long science class because I like those subjects,” Harbert said. “I also have certain classes that I do not like for a really long time.”

On the other hand, Junior Nicole Deeken did not have such a positive reaction to first hearing about the schedule change.

“I was very very against it, ” Deeken said. “It just seemed scary. I thought that the shorter classes were more efficient.”

Despite Deeken’s initial disapproval, time has changed her mind.

“Realistically, it’s more effective to have longer classes because there’s less interrupted time,” Deeken said. “Now that I’ve done it for a while, I really like it. It’s nice to have a change of schedule.”

Regardless of Deeken’s overall positive response to the new schedule, she did have a  concern about the new lunch system. Contrary to last year when the schedule included four 40-minute lunch periods separated by grade, the new schedule has only two 20-minute lunch periods. The first period freshmen and sophomores eat together while in the second period juniors and seniors eat together. In the period that the grade is not in the lunchroom, they are free to go to any open room and complete homework or attend extracurriculars as a part of the activity period.

Deeken found that 20 minutes was not an adequate amount of time for lunch with the crowded combination of two grades.

“I feel it’s not enough time to eat my meal and there aren’t enough tables because it is so crowded, ” Deeken said. “I liked it better when it was separated by grade.”

Harbert also found she was not a huge fan of the new lunch as she recounts her lunch experience.

“I walk from my advisory on third floor Donnelly and once I get past the mob of students all running down the stairs, I go to M&A,” Harbert said. “Because I buy lunch most of the time, I am the last person in line and I have to wait 15 minutes to get my lunch, then I have to wait in line to buy it. When I finally sit down, everyone is already packed up.”

The 20-minute lunch comes with some benefits through the correlating activity period. This allows Deeken to participate in more extracurriculars and get homework done. 

“I always have something during activity period, and it’s very useful,” Deeken said. “I always get things done and there’s always meetings. I think it’s a good time for clubs or any meetings you need. It’s overall very useful and effective.”

McCormick has acknowledged the students’ concerns and thoughts related to the new lunch and activity time.

“It’s figuring out a balance on how to work lunch, both in a time constraint and the kind of service that you will want,” McCormick said. 

Overall the new schedule has brought about many changes to the 2022-2023 school year, and whether these changes are perceived as good or bad, McCormick has found that the one common agreement is the new and exciting possibilities yet to be discovered.

I think the best part about doing a new schedule right now is the opportunities that we haven’t yet thought of,” McCormick said.