Is Our School Day too Long?

Read the students body's opinion!

Kate Vander Vort and Annie Kelley

Have you ever thought about how our school day compares to other schools? Think about it: we have eight periods each day, only one being lunch, and the majority of the week we have two assemblies every day. Our school day starts at 8:00 am and ends at either 2:30 or 3:30, and compared to other schools, this is a very busy and long schedule. For a lot of students, they find that they barely have any time to spend time with family or do extracurriculars because of this schedule. For example, on a Monday, an average NCDS student will wake up at 6:00 am, attend eight periods with two assemblies, then get out of school by 3:30 and might still have sports after. For athletes or someone in the musical, their activities finish at 6:00. And in order to get the recommended sleep time of 8-10 hours, they will have to be asleep by 10:00 pm at the latest, leaving only 4 hours to get home, eat dinner, shower, do homework, and interact with their family. 

Now let’s think of a normal Monday for a student at Belmont Hill. Belmont Hill starts at 8:20 am every day except Thursday, when they have a late start at 8:45 am. Although the time they are present in class is the same, they only have 6 blocks a day, concluding with lunch which ends at 2:10 pm. After lunch, there is a study hall from 2:10 to 3:05 where students can meet with their teachers and get homework done. When the study hall (which students call “X block”) is over, sports start directly after school and finish by 5:00 pm. If we implemented this schedule into our school, the “X” block period could easily become time for committees or announcements. For the average person who lives 25 minutes from school, this gets them home by 5:25 pm, which is much different from our school day. At Belmont Hill, their sports end only thirty minutes before ours even begin. This means Belmont Hill students get home much earlier and are able to have a less stressed night because they feel like they have time to manage homework and family life.

We can clearly see the effects that this long school day has on Upper School students in a recent survey sent out to all students in grades 9-12. 49.7% of 179 NCDS upper schoolers said they get 6-8 hours of sleep, and 31.8% of students said they get 3-4 hours of sleep a night. The survey also revealed that 41.9% of students said they get 2-3 hours of homework a night. This means that most students get home late because of the late practice schedule, then have 2-4 hours of homework after a stressful and long day at school.

The source of this problem for most students is getting out of school at 3:30 for a majority of the days of the week. A simple way to fix the long day is to remove the second assembly. 91.9% of  students said they find that the 2nd assembly is not useful. By getting rid of the 2nd assembly, we would get out at 2:30 everyday and have sports start at 3:30 and end at 5:00. This would allow students to get home, do homework and go to bed at a reasonable time. Our athletes were especially passionate about this issue, one saying, “Sports end WAY too late. We get home at about 7:00 by the time sports end and then don’t have enough time for sleep and homework.” 

 One student said, “I’m at school for longer than I’m at my own home.” And this fact is true for most NCDS students, since our schedule is packed with classes, arts, assemblies, rehearsals, and sports. An anonymous group of students shared that they think the best solution would be removing an assembly and a class period. If we did this, students would get out of class at around 1:50. Sports would then start at 3:00 for high schoolers and end at 4:30. This schedule seems like it could have the potential to produce a healthier school/life balance for students. Overall, the tone of responses we received show that people are eager for change in our school schedule. 

 

Read more about students’ strong opinions on our school day length: 

(some opinions have been edited for length and clarity)

The assemblies are wasted time…We could have one 30 min assembly (Chapel, announcements, committees, class meeting), or after school for half an hour there could be activities and you could stay if you needed to or leave if you have nothing. The fact that we have days that get out early (like for conferences) and can still not miss anything crucial is a red flag!”

 

“Also 2:30 days would minimize traffic for people. The school frequently complains about people frequently leaving early or missing school. I think this is that no one wants to be here for that long and that we aren’t doing anything worth staying for. Most other private schools in the area get out earlier.”

 

“I think we should come up with a way to make sports end earlier. It’s super stressful getting home at 7:30 and then waking up at 5:45 because there is almost no time to interact with my family. The homework is a whole other issue but either way if we got home earlier that would be less of an issue. We really don’t even need a full 8 periods a day. Thank you guys so much for this survey!!”

 

“It would be really helpful to start sports earlier (maybe if we need more space we can use other schools’ fields). Also, the block schedule was really helpful because it meant more time to focus on one subject and less homework each night. And, maybe just assigning less homework in general and do more in class (also teachers posting homework for the week ahead of time for the students so people can get ahead and be less stressed about finishing it all in one night).”