No matter how stressed or busy a student feels, colloquium days remain a refreshing constant every full school week. A time to catch up on homework, socialize with friends, and explore new passions and interests have always been at the core of the Northside experience. However, moving forward, Wednesdays will take on a different structure.
The new additions to the schedule include flex periods, reduced colloquium, and an extended advisory.
The new schedule provides longer study hall blocks referred to as flex periods. There are four flex periods in a day, each 45 minutes long, with two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Unlike X and Y blocks, students are required to sign up for their desired flex periods using the new online registration program: Enriching Students.
In addition, advisory is now from 9:40 to 10:45 as opposed to the first 30 minutes of the day.
According to Principal Kelly Mest, the flex period system was introduced to provide more flexibility, hence the name flex, “but still preserve the idea of colloquium.”
“I like that there are four flex periods because you have more opportunities to meet up with a variety of people,” sophomore Hannah Kaczor (Adv. 207) explained. This can be extremely useful for students who balance multiple clubs, I-night dances, or extracurricular activities that typically meet during designated study hall periods. If a student needs to see a specific teacher to make-up a test or receive tutoring help, the new flex system gives them the ability to do so. However, Kaczor notes a potential downside: “I’m not able to get as much work done because we switch so often.”
Students should note that some, but not all, teachers offer back-to-back flex periods. This can provide a useful alternative to transitioning flex periods every 45 minutes.
Other noticeable changes are the shorter colloquium block and accompanying lunchtimes. The colloquium block is 70 minutes shorter and lunch is 10 minutes shorter. “The day goes by a lot faster when colloquium isn’t as long” Kaczor mentioned. Less time spent in colloquium means students get more time to catch up on schoolwork and study. But some students enjoy the break from the traditional classroom environment and prefer to devote most of the day to their chosen colloquium. “With a much shorter colloquium, there’s less time to do the activities we want,” says junior Amy Jurkowski (Adv. 102), a two-time participant in the hands-on and engaging fermenting colloquium.
The new schedule was implemented, like most things at Northside, as a result of feedback from the school community. The previous schedule had been in use for six years, so it is not surprising administration decided to make the switch. “We need to regularly check-in and see if what we’re doing is serving our needs,” said Ms. Mest. As the student body evolves and diversifies, it only makes sense the structure of Wednesdays does as well.
“Personally, I prefer the old schedule,” said senior Ryan Cavanaugh (Adv. 000) “It feels a lot more chaotic now, but it offers more choice for students.” Overall, feedback regarding the new schedule has been limited and mixed in nature, but students are adjusting to it with an open mind.
“I think the biggest benefit is flexibility for faculty, staff, students [and] the entire community,” stated Ms. Mest. “It really was a team process where teachers, administrators, staff members, and students were involved. No matter the outcome, I’m proud of the way it came to be.”