It is easy to picture the daily academic schedule of a typical high school in the U.S.—first class starting at around eight in the morning, lunch time following the morning classes, and a few more classes before school ends. The daily schedule at Western Reserve Academy (WRA), a private boarding/day school located in Hudson, Ohio, is no exception. It is the small details, however, that make WRA’s schedules unique, and to a certain extent, better.
|[Western Reserve Academy campus. Photo taken by James Doh]|
One of the unique aspects of WRA’s academic schedule is its long classes. Because the schedule is a seven-day cycle, there are only four classes a day but with each class lasting seventy-five minutes. These classes are relatively longer than those of a typical high school in the U.S., in which classes are not even over an hour. As a student at WRA, I find these long classes to be very advantageous; they allow me to deeply engage in my classes since I only have to worry about four subjects a day. Ding Ma ’20, a senior at WRA, agreed on this point as he stated, “because there are only four classes a day, I can better organize my time without having to think about too much stuff.” Not only that, longer classes spark thoughtful discussions in classrooms. In an English class that I previously took, we talked about a single line from the book for about an hour. I enjoyed sharing my thoughts and listening to those of others, thus engaging in a type of conversation that was not only engaging, but also only possible with the longer classes. Conversely, shorter classes have a negative effect, both on students and teachers. Jamie Wall, a teacher at Brookwall Middle School in New Jersey, remarked the following: “I teach in 40 minute periods. [Teaching] this type of collaborative learning in 40 minutes [is doable but not easy].” It is clear that the students at WRA benefit from such an educational environment with longer classes.
In addition to the longer classes, each academic day at Western Reserve Academy has a special period called Academic Plus. During this hour-long period, students have the options to work on their homework, find teachers for extra help, or simply catch up with friends. Some students even practice the violin during this period while others play ultimate frisbee. As a senior, I spend most of my Academic Plus periods to do my school work, but occasionally I hang out with my friends. I love that I am granted some sort of freedom in the middle of my academic day. Ma added, “I love Academic Plus periods because I am free to do whatever I want to do. I usually finish my homework and study for assessments.” Whatever it is that students decide to do during this period, they are happy to be granted freedom during the day.
|[Ding Ma ’20 being interviewed regarding the daily schedule. Photo taken by Quan Vo ’20]|
Some may argue that the daily schedule at WRA actually does no good. Longer classes may be too tiring for the students, and the Academic Plus period simply takes away time from the students when they can learn new things in a class that they would otherwise take. However, as a student myself at WRA, I can proudly say that that’s just not true. With its unique daily academic schedule, Western Reserve Academy students in fact are able to focus better and engage in more thoughtful conversations in class, and enjoy a bit of freedom during an academic day like college students.
James “Jihun” Doh
Western Reserve Academy
James “Jihun” Doh firstname.lastname@example.org
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