Branson releases new schedule for 2021-22 school year

By Patricia dePalma

Branson released next year’s schedule to return popular elective offerings, honor student choice and more time for collaboration and extracurriculars. 

The current schedule offers three 90-minute classes four days a week, while the new plan will include eight blocks, assemblies, advisories and clubs. 

With the new schedule, students will receive the opportunity to “double up in classes,” taking two classes from the same discipline, due to the addition of a free block. As students fill out the 2021- 2022 Curriculum Guide, students will have the opportunity to sign up for extra classes with the permission of their teachers and adviser. 

“Well, I think it’s nice because we can add a free block and that allows us to double up in whatever classes we need may be interested in, but at the same time it’ll be difficult readjusting to Wednesdays being back in person,” Shail Belani, a sophomore, said.

Next year’s program provides many changes, including having five days of classes with up to four classes each day.

“I’m upset we are not going to have Wednesdays online, but it’s also good because we learn more, in a way. I also kind of like the breaks in between classes because it really slows down the schedule. I feel like that is important and crucial to having a good learning environment,” Eva Baldauf, a sophomore, said.

Faculty, like math teacher Gillian Kneass, appreciate the regularity of the new schedule. 

“I really like the consistency — that everything meets at the same time everyday,” she said. “I like that we only have four classes a day and I like the length of classes. I like the beginning and the ending times and that there’s more time to meet for special groups like affinity groups and advisory. I don’t really have any criticisms of it.”

The schedule provides regularity, therefore, if there are changes in the day, such as a guest speaker or an extra assembly, there is not a ripple effect throughout the week. 

“Because it’s the same everyday, it’s very flexible,” said Jeff Symonds, the director of teaching and learning. “There are ways we can pivot. If we have a special speaker, things are easy to move around … It was the uniformity of the schedule that allowed us to be flexible.” 

To create the plan, the staff of the school collaborated in larger and smaller groups to create and edit a successful schedule. Symonds, Carol Herter, the assistant director of studies, and Chance Sims, director of studies, were all part of a subcommittee, in charge of producing rough drafts and editing the schedule. 

“Conversations with faculty, administrators, the deans, the department chairs around what we have learned from covid about our schedule that we think would be beneficial to hold on to and what are things that we don’t love about it and we don’t want to keep for next year… Chance [Sims] , Carol Herter, and I took all of that and we made a subcommittee. We iterated six or seven different possible schedules,” Symonds said.