October 2017 (Volume 68, Issue 1)
By Elsa Konieczynski, Staff Writer
On the first day of school, NHS students opened their agenda notebooks to find a significant change in the Friday schedule: the addition of an X Block. The X Block takes place for 55 minutes between the first two classes every Friday, meaning first period ends at 9:25 and second period begins at 10:30. This period is to be used for homeroom activities for the first weeks of school, and Friday, September 22, was the first day the time was used for its intended purpose: to provide students with the opportunity to collaborate with each other and seek help from teachers. The X block was created when administration worked with a scheduling “Xploration committee” to modify the schedule and address the recent student and parent concerns regarding student stress levels. NHS students are actively involved in extracurriculars and some lack a study period, which makes it difficult for students to meet with teachers and peers for extra help. Assistant Principal Ms. Coubrough-Argentieri believes X Block has the potential to serve as a solution to these problems. “I see it as being a huge benefit to the students,” Ms. Coubrough Argentieri commented, “to provide time during the school day for students to get academic support from their teachers and a time to collaborate with other students during the school day”.
Although students, parents, and administration have high hopes for X Block, it is important to consider its arguably negative effect on the schedules of teachers. Fast-paced and carefully-structured classes such as AP United States History will certainly feel the loss of time due to the new schedule. Furthermore, the reduced class times due to X Block may cause some classes to not be able to keep up with curriculum, potentially interfering in student preparation for AP and final exams.
Another source of controversy surrounding X Block this semester is the rule that students must obtain a special “X Block pass” prior to Friday in order to meet with teachers or classmates. Students must be aware in advance of how they intend on utilizing the period, meaning that they cannot obtain a pass spontaneously that day. A junior class student commented that the early notification required to meet with teachers “may pose a problem if there is an immediate concern that arises during first period on Friday”. When asked about this controversy, Ms. Coubrough-Argentieri sympathized with the student’s concerns, but ultimately defended the committee’s decision, highlighting the need for X Block to be structured while it is still in its “trial and pilot period”. Furthermore, Ms. Coubrough Argentieri elaborated on the importance of keeping X Block structured in order to “gather data and so we know where students are…if we just opened [X Block] up with 45 minutes of free time, it would be difficult to track and manage the benefits…This way, we can get student and teacher feedback on X Block”.
The X block will truly be an Xperiment for student and faculty alike. Despite conflicting viewpoints, the general expectation for X block remains generally optimistic in the school community. If all goes well in the next few months, the X block may become a valuable part of our daily routine at NHS.