After the Concord Academy administration announced the new “STAC” schedule for the 2020-2021 school year, students have expressed a wide range of opinions on the new plan.
This plan allows students to focus all of their attention on only a few classes at a time, switching those classes three times each semester (so that each is about five weeks). This contrasts the old schedule, where classes would rotate on a daily basis so no two days were the same. While some students find that the new plan gives them more time with teachers and material in the virtual classroom, others find it redundant and have a harder time focusing.
“I wish they would switch it up,” Cal Chertavian ’21 shares. “The fact that every single day I have biology at 8:40 AM, or every single day I have math at 3:30, there’s just no variety. Having classes on some days and not on others and having classes in different orders each day, that would work much better for me and the way I manage myself.”
Many other students echo Cal’s thoughts, even those who prefer the STAC schedule to the previous plan, like Piper Gordon ’21. Piper likes most parts of the plan, but is sometimes frustrated by the longer hours. “It’s a lot of the same classes at the same times every day. My 7:30 and 2:30 classes suffer a little bit from exhaustion. It’s a good schedule for the [virtual] change and everything, though. I think it works better than the old one would have online,” she says.
However, other members of the student body have a more positive view of the repetition.
Eric Liu ’21 voices his thoughts: “Discussion everyday is different, so especially if you have a class you like, it [the repetition] is okay. I think it gives students an opportunity to dig more deeply into a specific topic because topics stay fresh in students minds.”
Gabby Ruberto ’21 agrees with Eric, also pointing out that her biggest complaint is the homework that has accompanied the new plan. She shared, “I actually don’t mind seeing a class everyday – I had the same thing in middle school. What poses a problem is the homework because now if every teacher assigns a lot of work there’s not enough time to do it for the next day. I think scheduling work due in two days instead of one might be a solution to that.”
There is nearly unanimous agreement among seniors about the problems with the current workload. All students interviewed agree that it is not directly the teachers’ fault; the new schedule makes it harder for them to gauge what is reasonable or what will take students longer.
“If the homework load was a little less, it would be a good system for online learning. However, due to the new system, a lot of teachers assign a ton of work because they’re used to having classes only three times a week,” Eric emphasizes.
“It’s easy to fall behind, and teachers don’t really know how much homework to give,” Cal adds.
Although day students and local boarders have complaints, many international and west coast students struggle with an additional issue: time zones. Most have been forced to considerably alter their sleep schedule.
Cherie Jiraphanphong ’21, a boarder from Thailand, shared, “The schedule did hit me too hard. I’m not taking classes after C block [because of the time difference], so my classes only run from 6:30 – 11:00 pm my time.” Cherie’s schedule, while dramatic, is more reasonable than those of others. Some students are staying up until two or three in the morning for their class times. To accommodate the new schedule, Cherie has also had to take a Global Online Academy math course in place of a virtual CA one, as it is nearly impossible for international students to fit a normal number of classes into a school day without staying up to ridiculous hours. While there does not seem to be a plan to improve this aspect of the schedule, students hope that the administration will take steps to improve the daily routine for international students.
Although some students retain their initial distaste towards the new STAC schedule, the majority of the student body seems to be adapting to the virtual environment. Though the homework load and time differences are overwhelming for many, hopefully, the CA administration will provide more academic support in the upcoming weeks.