Urban School changes schedule to reduce student stress

Give Me A Break  Urbans new E5 period gives students time to prep during the day, not just after school or at home

Give Me A Break Urban’s new E5 period gives students time to prep during the day, not just after school or at home

Jason Cinti, Online Sports Editor

It was 8 p.m. on a recent Thursday, and David Leon (’11) had just gotten home from soccer practice.

Unfortunately, the next day, he would face all four of his core classes, and he doubted that he could finish all of his homework in time.

Suddenly, Leon realized that there was hope — he could use Urban’s new E5 period to prepare for his C and D period classes. As a result, Friday became “more relaxed and less stressful.”

Give Me A Break  Urban's new E5 period gives students time to prep during the day, not just after school or at home
Give Me A Break Urban's new E5 period gives students time to prep during the day, not just after school or at home

At the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year, the administration added an E5 period, moved advising to Tuesdays, and made the Friday school day 15 minutes shorter.

The administration “understands that school can be stressful … and rigorous, and we’re trying to adjust that in ways that seem sensible,” said Greg Monfils, English teacher and freshman/sophomore dean.

Monfils said the administration decided that students would “benefit from and enjoy another study hall,” a comment that many students appear to endorse.

According to a Legend survey on Oct. 6, 84 percent of the 100 students responding thought that E5 was “an amazing addition” to the schedule, while 15 percent felt that there were still too many distractions to get their work done effectively.

There still is no assigned room for juniors and seniors to study in, and for Hadley Mendelsohn (’12), “it is really hard to find a quiet place to get work done.” Another disadvantage to E5 is that “it’s at the end of the week, so it’s a lot harder to focus,” said Eli Dinkelspiel (’14).

In another change, advising was moved to Tuesdays. This move lets “advising butt up against lunch, so that advising (can) last longer on occasion,” said Monfils. Leon likes this change because it gives his advising a chance to “catch-up on the previous week and the weekend.”

However, Leon is in the minority. According to the Legend’s survey, only 14 percent of students enjoy having advising on Tuesdays. In comparison, 86 percent feel that the change does not make a difference.

However, students do appear to like shortening Fridays. “Because of the Bay Counties League sports schedule, we often had students needing to leave class early on Fridays,” said Worsley. The “only way to solve it is to have Fridays be shorter,” she said.

These changes are part of an effort to cut down on the amount of stress that builds up by the end of the week as well as make some key adjustments to a once-conflicted schedule, administrators say.

Urban is not the only private school in San Francisco trying to ease the school day. Lick- Wilmerding High School has “tutorial periods” three times a week, “a time when kids can meet with teachers for extra help, do work, or even take a break,” said Karen Eshoo, assistant head of school.

Besides these periods, “all students have at least one free block out of the eight blocks in the schedule,” when, according to Eshoo, students can stay on campus or leave campus.

University High School does not have mandatory study halls. “However, many students use the library during their free periods to complete their homework,” said Alex Lockett, dean of students.

Both Lick and UHS treat their study halls and free periods with a bit more freedom than Urban.

Yet, for Urban students, more structure with E periods allows students to crack down on their work without being tempted to hang out and relax.