Because COVID-19 is still a massive threat to public health, Concord Academy made the tough decision to start the new school year virtually instead of in person. With this decision came the challenge of creating a brand new schedule from the ground up. Finding solutions for problems such as varied time zones and excessive screen time while simultaneously creating time for all the CA classes and activities we know and love certainly proved to be a challenge. But in the end, the faculty and administration came up with the ‘Short Term at Concord’ (STAC) schedule, an effective way of preserving the elements of CA that make it so special. On the surface, it may seem confusing, but once you break it down, it becomes quite clear and easy to understand.
The entire school year will consist of six individual STACs, each lasting about five and a half weeks and separated by one-week breaks. In order to earn the full amount of credits for a class, a student must take that class in two of the three STACs in a semester to earn one semester’s worth of credits, or four of the six total STACs to earn one year’s worth of credits. Some departments require students to take one course the whole year. Other departments, such as history, allow students to take four separate courses (one per STAC) to fulfill that year’s credits. In that way, the STAC schedule is very flexible, allowing students to customize their schedules in order to meet their academic credit requirements.
Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays resemble the normal CA schedule, with blocks A-E meeting for one hour and ten minutes each. While this is ten minutes less than the in-person class times, it is balanced by the forty-five-minute class blocks that take place on Fridays. The schedule also provides built-in time for breaks, chapels, assemblies, lunch, and health and wellness classes.
The most unique part of the new schedule is the Wednesday programming. On these days, classes are not in session, which allows teachers, staff, and students to host educational activities. Wednesdays feature either H-blocks or X-blocks, which alternate every other week. H-blocks are designated for club meetings, class meetings, and Community and Equity programming. X-blocks are mostly focused on providing students with innovative opportunities to learn new things within the course material they are being taught. X-block events are organized by teachers and will feature guest speakers, group discussions, and other engaging activities.
Extracurriculars at CA have remained mostly unchanged, as sports and music groups take place after classes. Despite the challenge of taking place over Zoom, PE and music classes still provide students with a nice way to end the day, either through exercising or perfecting the craft of playing an instrument. Team sports still take place on campus on Wednesday and Friday afternoons despite the absence of competitive games or tournaments this sports season. In order to participate in these events, students will need to complete their daily symptom check on Boardingware and check in with an adult on campus.
The new STAC schedule, among many other aspects of virtual learning, is very different than what many of us are used to. While this year looks different than before, CA has not lost any of the features that make it so special. Clubs and affinity groups still give students a space where they feel comfortable and welcomed. Teachers still greet students on their way into class. The community still comes together every morning for announcements and senior chapels. And soon, we will all be together again on campus, learning, growing, and making memories in the place we all love.