By Patrick Laudolff ’24
In my last article, I gathered student feedback from club leaders to form an assessment of the health of extracurricular life at Saint Ignatius High School and raise some student concerns. This issue of the series brings a response from the administration to questions students have about the decision making process when it comes to the activities period and the state of extracurricular activities as a whole. The questions and responses are listed below.
How does the administration view time before school for clubs? Is it encouraged for students to try to meet in the morning?
Mr. Sabol: This can also be a good time for activities to meet; though, it can be more challenging for students to arrive in the same numbers as during activities or after school. Still, we find that many clubs will use this time for small meetings like leadership teams. We support clubs that want to meet before school.
Would the administration ever consider going back to the old schedule from the 21-22 school year?
Mr. Sabol: Largely, we have the same schedule now as we did last year – four 70-minute periods each day, seven total period slots, seven day rotation, etc. The changes we made to the activities time have decreased the strain on common areas and the kitchen staff, and while they have not addressed all the challenges for clubs meeting during the activities period, we don’t see the need to revert to last year’s lunch structure.
Is competition among clubs a concern for the administration based on the fact that the majority of clubs meet during school on either Monday or Friday?
Mr. Martin: For generations of Ignatius students, after school was virtually the only time that most clubs and extracurricular activities would (or could) meet; now with the introduction of the activities period as well as the later start time in the mornings, there are three distinct times during the day that are reasonable for meetings.
Finding the best times for meetings will inevitably look different for different clubs. That is one of the reasons we created the Master Club/EC Calendar this year, which we shared with the entire campus community in the fall. Obviously, Mondays and Fridays during the activities period will be popular options since there are no advisories those days, but as the calendar shows, plenty of groups are taking advantage of other meeting times. Moderators and student leaders are welcome to experiment with different meeting times until they find a schedule that best meets the needs of their club.
No schedule is ever going to free students entirely from the need to make choices about how they spend their time and what activities they will join: that was always clear to those designing the current bell schedule. We do believe, though, that we have provided more information and more potential meeting slots than at any time in recent memory
How much of a factor was the Activities period in the decision to change the schedule for the current academic year?
Mr. Sabol: It was a major consideration in the sense that we wanted to address the issues raised last year (advisory frequency, strain on common areas and the kitchen) while still providing ample time for intramurals, class meetings, and similar activities. While it’s only 10 minutes, the change in the end time for the school day was put in place in order to better facilitate after school activities.
Mr. Pacetti: The new schedule also provides regular times for various faith formation activities that didn’t exist before. Having 50 minute advisory/activity periods allows for class liturgies (Masses & Eucharistic Adoration), class meetings, and significant planning time for retreat and service/justice leadership teams (Pallbearers, Labre, Christmas Food Drive, Ignatians for Peace and Justice, etc.) throughout the year. Additionally, with daily masses each morning and CAT meetings on Wednesdays before delayed starts, it enables all students to participate without class or after school conflicts.
In summary, the school and administration continue to support the vibrance of the extracurricular scene, which carries a considerable weight in deciding any future schedule changes. What has been noted, however, is the presence and emphasis on the three meeting times that students now have compared to the past. Extracurricular activities now have the ability to meet before, during, and after school — whichever time works best for the individual club.
Extracurricular activities this year have occurred primarily in the Monday and Friday activities periods, leaving a comparative lack of club meetings before and after school. The responses above point to a need to use these other time slots if students want to have the opportunity to attend multiple activities throughout the week. Unfortunately, many students have to make sacrifices as about half of the student body is dependent on a ride to and from school each day. This limitation makes participation in morning activities especially more difficult than the convenience of the activities period.
Some may also point toward student apathy as a cause of the lack of afternoon and, especially, morning club meetings. Getting up in the morning for school is hard for many, myself included, and if given the choice to go to school early for a club meeting or sleep another half an hour, I would probably sleep nine out of ten times. This poses an understandable problem for the morning activities period that leaves most morning meetings to the most committed of students.
To offer criticism and not attempt to brainstorm a way to solve the issue would be foolhardy. The most compelling argument – to me – that came from a student responses made by Tyler Craciun ‘24:changing the schedule such that all Advisories meet on the same day. This would free up either the Tuesday or Thursday activities period for clubs to meet, further capitalizing on the convenience of meeting during school hours. Whether or not this is feasible remains to be seen as sources say that there is not enough physical classroom space in the school to have all Advisories meet at the same time.
Regardless of any changes that may or may not be coming in the future to the schedule, to say that extracurricular activities have made a comeback since COVID-19 would be an understatement. While there are still some perennial problems to overcome, this is the healthiest that extracurricular activities have ever been.