Mater Dei Changes Schedule for Next Year

Edward Hagerty, Staff Writer

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Graduation is only a couple of weeks away, and seniors are getting ready to leave Mater Dei and move on to the future. Departing with them is Mater Dei’s current block schedule, meaning alternating 1-4 days and 5-7 days are about to become a thing of the past.

The new system to replace the current routine has been discussed for some time now, and the Curriculum Committee, which is comprised of Mr. Stingo and the department heads, is aiming to address the flaws in the current system.

The main feature of the new schedule is that school will always get out at a consistent time, 2:30pm. This is possible because every day will have four blocks: blocks 1,2,3, and 7 on one day, and then 4,5,6, and 7 on the next day. These 1-3 and 4-6 days will alternate in the same fashion as 1-4 and 5-7 days do now, but the addition of seventh block to each day will make it so that 1-3 and 4-6 days get out at the same time every day.

But why is this change even necessary?

“The number one complaint about the current schedule from parents has been that they have no idea when school gets out; coaches are frustrated by it, and that was the main push—to have a more rational schedule,” Mr. Smyth, the head of the math department, explained. The changing end times for each day pose a challenge for parents, who have to coordinate when to pick up their child amid a constantly shifting schedule. The purpose of the new schedule is to eliminate that uncertainty: “Our priority was to find a common end time that was never different, which was mainly a priority for parents and sports.”

This brings up another point: student athletes at Mater Dei will also benefit from the new schedule. The system of consistent end times enables them to confidently predict when practices will start each day, and what consistent time they should leave class to attend their games. Hopefully, the new schedule will make the athletes’ lives easier. However, the benefits extend to all the students at Mater Dei, not just those involved in sports.

For one thing, school days will never be extended beyond the normal dismissal time for Mass or rallies, which has been a big concern for students. Mrs. Anthony, the head of the theology department, is definitely aware of the students’ mentality during extended days: “If it’s a 1:30 day and we’ve had to add something to the schedule it really sets a tone of ‘ugh really? We’ve got to stay for this?’” she said. “For Masses, it takes away from what the Mass is.” Unfortunately, some students often end up shifting their outlook from the positive experience of Mass to the negative reality of a school day that’s been lengthened by an hour, creating an attitude of resentment towards the addition in the middle of the day. “For rallies, it hurts the energy, so what we wanted to do was to get the consistent end time and build into the schedule time for students to engage with each other.”

The way that Masses and rallies are built into the new schedule is that they fill up the time normally designated for seventh block, ensuring that the special events fit in their entirety into the day without extending dismissal time.

Seventh block itself has undergone the most alteration; it is only 75 minutes as opposed to the other blocks’ 85 minutes, and it is specially tailored for students who wish to take elective courses during that time. However, classes in the core subjects will still be available for seventh block based on each teacher’s availability. For example, teachers who only have a single block of a certain subject will likely place it in the seventh block time slot, enabling students to still fill their schedules.

The final major change to the schedule is that school will start at 9:15am every Friday, allowing for teacher meetings to occur in the morning that day. Seventh block will not take place on Fridays, allowing school to end at 2:30pm as usual. This means that students can sleep an extra hour every Friday before coming to school.

“If you want to sleep in and come in at 9:15, that’s bell time, and that’s going to be a privilege that anyone can do and get some rest,” Mr. Stingo next year’s principal, explained. However, if parents need to drop off their children early, the campus will accommodate them. “Of course, the gates will be open as early as usual,” Mr. Stingo said, “Plus Bob will be here, which makes everybody safe.”

“The idea is that we can get together as faculty and collaborate a little bit better. Friday morning. I sit in a lot of meetings, and they’re usually very productive. It’s the end of the week and everyone’s usually pretty excited, thinking about new things and kind of ready to get them done in the morning.”

In other words, teachers will be able to have efficient meetings, and students will be able to have their sleep.

Overall, that’s what the new schedule strives for: a healthy balance between the needs of everyone involved. It enables parents to rely on a consistent, unchanging time frame every day; it allows students to enjoy and participate in Mass and rallies without adding a full hour to dismissal; and it allows coaches to better manage their athletes. The new schedule’s benefits will hopefully overshadow the flaws in the old schedule, and allow the Mater Dei community to operate at a new level of effectiveness, convenience, and efficiency.2018-19 bell schedule[1264]

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Mater Dei Changes Schedule for Next Year