The removal of half day Wednesdays from the IACS 2022-2023 bell schedule was recently announced in the January 28 IACS Hawk newsletter by Head of School Greg Orpen, in disregard to the opinions and needs of many students and parents.
The elimination of the half day Wednesday is overall detrimental to IACS as a school, and poses no real benefits over the current schedule.
One valuable product of the half day Wednesday is the opportunity for students to partake in a variety of experiences that would not be possible at other schools. Internships, for example, allow IACS students to accumulate actual experience in a field they are interested in pursuing, and when they happen on half day Wednesdays, they come at almost no opportunity cost. Students can be exposed to an actual work environment with no class time lost, not a minute of learning missed, all while still being able to take full advantage of all class blocks.
While there are schedule proposals that would remove half day Wednesdays, and keep internships, none can claim the same benefits as the simple half day Wednesday. The sheer fact is that any change involving a removal of half day Wednesdays would force students to give up some form of concession if they want to have an internship. Whether it be missing choice block, or not being able to take all the classes they want, there would be a trade off that could greatly limit the ability of IACS students to partake in this unique and valuable experience.
The half day Wednesday is also an integral part of IACS culture, school spirit, and is a large factor in appealing to new students. I still remember the excitement of my first half day Wednesdays as a new fifth grader at IACS. I now had an opportunity midway through the week to catch up on homework, work on projects, or just generally relax. The ability to refresh at the halfway point of the week, and come back on Thursday more relaxed, with more sleep, or with some work done is a crucial tool for students, the value of which should not be underestimated. In addition, the half day Wednesday is one of the major points that differentiates IACS from other schools, and for myself and other students, was a major factor that led to my decision to attend.
Proponents of the change argue that it will make picking up students easier and more convenient for parents, but not only is this incorrect, the change could actually bring on the opposite effect. Since students and families already have arranged for and planned transportation with the current schedule, the proposed removal of half day Wednesdays and moving up of dismissal time on other days would sabotage these existing plans and pose major headaches for anyone who has to transport their student to and from school. How much harder is it really to arrange for transportation at 12:25 one day per week when compared to the alternative of having to arrange for transportation at 2:30 every day?
Proponents also argue that this change would make it easier to meet the school’s obligation to provide lunch to students 5 days per week. On half day Wednesdays, there is no lunch period, and therefore lunch is only provided on 4 of the 5 school days per week. This obviously should be in some way resolved, so that the school is both meeting its obligations to the state, and acting as a responsible community member by providing lunches for students experiencing financial hardship, but it seems like the elimination of half day Wednesdays should be the last solution to this problem. Why not simply make bagged lunches available on Wednesdays before the end of school? Sure, coordinating the logistics of students being able to pick up these bagged lunches may not be easy, but any difficulty that comes with this plan pales in comparison to the inconvenience to students and families of modifying dismissal times.
Not only does this absurd decision hurt students and families, but the decision itself was made with virtually no outside input. Administration deliberately chose not to consult the very people they claim this change will help. The only plausible explanation for this blatant disregard of student and parent rights seems to be that they knew exactly what the response would be. They knew that a hefty majority would be vehemently opposed to this ill-advised decision. Had they received such a clear mandate from parents and students the proposal would have been stopped dead in its tracks. So, instead the IACS community was kept in the dark, and school administration decided to proceed with their removal of half day Wednesdays without even asking for input.
Already an online petition has been started by sophomores Elizabeth White and Rylie Hegarty, quickly reaching 250 signatures in just 2 days. Anyone who wishes to express their support for half day Wednesdays can do so by signing the petition.
Furthermore, anyone who would like to share how this decision affects them personally should feel free to email members of school administration and the board of directors. Students and community members should not just stand by as one of IACS’ most unique and valuable features is taken away in a massive overreaction to a few minor issues.