Editorial: Shifting Community Block Does Not Lead to a Stronger Community


Introduced to the School’s schedule in the 2020-21 school year, Community Block, found on the schedule on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s, granted clubs a period of guaranteed time to meet following lunch. It has a four-period rotation of blocks: A, B, C, and D with each block having between 13 and 16 clubs meeting during it. Since Community Block is biweekly, each club meets twice per week. The period was after lunch for the entirety of the first semester.

Entering the second semester, the administration made the decision to move the Community Block period to the end of the day rather than have it follow lunch due to ongoing concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19. The change accompanied others such as one reinstating the requirement to wear masks indoors and another reinstituting virtual assemblies.

On Feb. 15, Community Block was moved back to the period following lunch due to decreasing COVID-19 concerns. While having Community Block at the end of the day as opposed to having it after lunch lasted merely one month, it exemplified to students its advantages and why it’s better to have it at the end of the day. I believe that Community Block should have stayed at the end of the day.

There is simply too much downtime between the end of the class prior to lunch and to the one after Community Block as it stands. For example, on Tuesday, Feb. 15, E period, the class before lunch, ended at 11:20. The class after Community Block, F period, did not commence until 12:45 due to the 37-minute lunch and 40 minute Community Block. 

Students can become disengaged with the school day with an hour and twenty-five minutes in between their classes. The lunch period was longer than any other day in that week; Monday’s was 24 minutes, Wednesday’s 34, Thursday’s 25, and lastly, Friday’s 35. While a long lunch can be enjoyable as a time for students to relax between classes, following it up with a 40 minute Community Block seems excessive. 

Oftentimes, club meetings do not last the full 40 minutes. From personal experience, my meetings with the Red Cross Club seem to last just about 10 or 15 minutes before being dismissed. The meetings usually consist of making a few cards for veterans, talking about potential community service, and leaving. Then, I have 25 or 30 minutes until my next class with little to do. This seems to be the case with most clubs, as I see many students wandering the campus, in the hallways, or in the gym towards the end of Community Block.

One could argue that with that 25 or 30 minutes, a student can go see a teacher to get help with their work, talk with friends, or even go play basketball in the gym. However, while this sounds plausible in theory, this is not how it works out most of the time. If one would like to go see a teacher, they might be busy with their club still, be preparing for their class next period, or simply not be in their room. In that case, it would be difficult to get work done sufficiently. If the period fell after school, students would have more leeway to wait for their meeting to conclude rather than anticipate the start of their next class. Additionally, there would be no class for them to prepare for following Community Block, so they would not feel rushed doing their work.

Talking with my friends is a good way to relax, but at that point, the student has already eaten lunch with their friends for 35 minutes and likely saw them during other classes or breaks. With Community Block at the end of the day, it offers students the ability to leave following the conclusion of their club rather than spending wasted time awaiting the start of their next class.

For example, on March 1, Community Block is on its D rotation with B period following it. If somebody would like to see Dr. John Peruggia during this period, there could be difficulties. Dr. Peruggia has Speech and Debate meeting during the period. If that meeting lasts the entirety of the Community Block period, there is no time for that student to meet with him. On the other hand, if it does end earlier, Dr. Peruggia has to prepare for Expository Writing during B period, which could limit his ability to assist the student.

For those who do not have a club to attend, it’s even worse. They cannot see some teachers at the start of Community Block because they could be busy while many classrooms for them to potentially do work in is busy. All that lingers to them is that class starts in 40 minutes. With Community Block at the end of the day, this issue will not present itself. The students can stay by choice if they decide that they would like to wait for a teacher’s availability, or they can leave if they have no teacher to see or work to complete at school.

Additionally, while it seems insignificant, students leaving at staggered times allows for less traffic leaving the school all at once. With student drives and parents picking their children up, leaving at a time when dismissal is all at once could take up to 10 minutes to exit the parking lot and find the way onto Grandiflora Road.

A major argument against having Community Block at the end of the day is that students can skip their clubs and just leave school. I found this to be the case in Red Cross Club, as when it was after school for about a month, attendance was very low; it was around eight to nine people each time with the Co-Presidents rarely showing up. Then, when it was once again placed after lunch, there weren’t even enough seats in Mrs. Wendler’s room for everybody who showed up. Granting the students the opportunity to leave makes them feel more enticed to do so because there are little repercussions for missing a club.

If clubs were once again inserted at the end of the day, clubs need harsher punishments for those who do not show up to their meetings. Attendance should be mandatory unless that student has a legitimate reason for not being at the meeting. If an individual continues not to show up, they should be removed from the club due to their lack of commitment because they truly do not care enough just because they want to leave school 45 minutes early.

Being in a club shouldn’t be something that students use to put onto their resume. It should be something that students use to indulge into a common interest and unite the community aspect of the School. The culture that has grown among students to feel like clubs are just resume builders is unfair and not right. There has to be punishment for missing an excessive number of clubs in order to fight this growing culture.

Even if the administration doesn’t find Community Block as the final period of the school day as the best solution, there certainly are other alternatives. For example, eliminating the rotation of blocks but keeping the period could be beneficial, as clubs can schedule their own meetings. This guarantees that the heads of the club attend, and it could make student engagement higher, as the meetings could feel less artificial and required. Administration should monitor the activity of each club and require a certain amount of meetings over a certain amount of time in order to assure that clubs are actually meeting. 

In order to prevent other scheduling concerns among students, perhaps a select student committee that discusses potential scheduling changes with administration could be beneficial to the School. While scheduling changes must be satisfactory for the faculty, a student’s perspective to these decisions is just as important in formulating the schedule, as we, like them, must abide by every single day. Students need their voices heard in issues that affect their daily school life.  

Community Block’s incorporation into the schedule is certainly a positive one, as it is a way for clubs to be organized and meet easily. However, its placement within the schedule itself brings concerns to the student body, as having it at the end of the school day is preferred as opposed to having it succeeding lunch.

*The Editorial is the opinion of The Pharcyde and therefore does not have a singular name attributed to it.