OBy John FitzSimons ’18
Over the past few years, Chaminade has undergone many changes in an effort to best fulfill its mission of preparing young men for college and beyond. This initiative, known as Advancing the Mission, has gradually modernized the school’s curriculum and educational resources.
Chaminade’s latest reform is the implementation of a block schedule, which divides the day into three 76-minute classes and four 36-minute classes. The primary six courses – religion, math, English, foreign language, science, and history – meet once every two days during the longer periods, with the exception of religion, which meets twice per cycle. The four shorter periods are reserved for classes such as art, music, study hall, computer science, and SAT prep.
This change originally was inspired by a desire to make the most use of the new science building. When the school’s administration announced the new scheduling last year, students were assured that it would help alleviate their workload and limit the number of examinations administered on a given day.
But the benefits of the new block schedule haven’t stopped there. Increased class time combined with the integration of iPads into the classroom has allowed teachers to diversify their educational activities during class and have enabled an increase in collaboration among students. Websites like EdPuzzle and GoFormative allow students to answer questions independently with many new resources, like videos and primary sources. Conversely, teachers can also place greater emphasis on working collaboratively. A portion of most classes is dedicated to students working together on an assignment to build teamwork skills and delve deeper into whatever material they are studying.
Director of Curriculum and senior English teacher Mr. Graham Otton ’05 said, “The longer stretches of time allow us to dive more deeply into our material. In English, we have more time to develop discussions. We can make stronger, more interesting connections among works. We can explore the complexity of material without the worry of a soon-to-ring bell.”
While everyone is excited about the new building, and the transition to the block schedule has gone smoothly, there remain many competing opinions among the student body. Seniors, in particular, after spending the majority of their high school careers under the old system, were concerned about the new schedule at the start of the school year. Some fall into the camp of Chris Nicholas ’18, who noted, “I believe that block periods can be, at times, too long to stay interesting.”
Despite these concerns, most Flyers have come to prefer the block schedule. Chris Corrigan ’20, for one, has become a believer.
“The block schedule definitely has lessened my workload each night,” he admitted.
“I was surprised by how efficient the scheduling is. It makes the day feel productive and the opposite of monotonous,” added Jake DiSciullo ’21.
Even many seniors have come around to the new schedule fairly quickly.
Anthony Raziano ’18 tied both perspectives together, saying, “It is too early to say this change wasn’t worthwhile. Once the new building is operational, I’m sure it will be clear that this was the right move.”