By Meghan Heredia and Jack Okun
For the fourth time in as many years, Oak Hall’s bell schedule for the Middle and Upper School has been changed for the 2021-22 school year. The schedule from previous school years flipped only the last two periods of the day (F and G periods). If a student was excused early from school to attend an athletic competition, they would always miss one of those periods. This year, however, depending on the day and time the student is dismissed, the period rotation of C, D, F, G ensures the same class (or two classes) aren’t constantly missed. “I like how [the schedule] flips the classes around because I have swimming and have to be excused from class a lot,” said seventh grader Tanner White. In addition, this school year introduced a 20-minute period called “SOAR” which stands for Student Organization and Academic Readiness.
The bell schedule for the two divisions was changed for a reason. “Every schedule has good things and bad things,” said Middle School Head Dr. Diana Murdock. “Always trying to balance the needs of students, our sports teams, our teachers, the Upper School, the Middle School, there are a lot of different things at play. It was tweaked to try to meet the needs of all of those people,” she continued.
The intended purpose of SOAR in the Upper School is to make sure students and teachers have a set amount of free time to meet about classwork. Some students, however, choose not to use this time wisely. “Most of the time I just hang out. But if I have homework I need to finish, I will do that,” said senior Ryan Parker. Students meet with their advisory groups every Tuesday and Thursday during the SOAR period for planned activities from school counselor Darcy Paré. Another change to the Upper School schedule is assembly. Assembly occurs four days per week before school. At assemblies, announcements are made regarding clubs, school events, and upcoming sport competitions. “Personally, I believe assembly should be limited to two days a week,” said senior Ria Patel.
SOAR in the Middle School, however, is set so students meet with their advisory groups daily. They play games, do activities, and study or do homework. Another major difference with the Middle School schedule is the frequency of assemblies. In the Middle School, assemblies occur every so often during the SOAR period.
While it is too early in the school year to see if the new schedule is making a difference with classwork, missed classes, or advisory, whenever the schedule is changed the goal is to always help the students. “Ultimately, our goal is always to do what is best for our students,” said Assistant Middle School Director Blair Fils.