To the Editor, Manchester Essex High School is currently in the process of changing the class schedule for the Fall of 2024. This change is directly precipitated by the budget cut and the need to pool resources between the middle and high schools. I want to make everyone aware of how the students and teachers will be adversely affected throughout this process.
In the proposed plan, we will switch over to six classes a day instead of five, each period being 10 to 15 minutes shorter than they are now. One of these periods is a 40-minute U block, which will also be shortened.
For me, U Block is the only time I can see teachers, interview peers and faculty for my Journalism class, meet with my fellow class officers, do group work with my classmates, or meet with my guidance counselor to discuss my academic future.
As a high school student, the 55- to 60-minute classes we have now are crucial when conducting a chemistry lab or taking an exam. Going back to a middle school schedule will only cut class discussions short in English and History and give students less time to dive into each subject and fully grasp the materials, detrimentally affecting not only their academic grades but their mental health as well.
And, what happens when a student is sick and misses an exam? That’s a 50-minute test that they now have to take in a 40-minute U block. Neither student nor teacher should be expected to give up their lunch or stay after school, nor will that be feasible for many students. I live in Essex, both my parents are employed, I’m not old enough to drive, and we’ve already cut late buses from our budget, which means that many students would be left without a way home.
This is yet another example of budget cuts negatively affecting students, which we’ve also started to see in our middle and elementary schools. It is unfair to then put those kids into a high school that doesn’t have the funding to provide them with the resources they need to be successful post-high school.
If we don’t increase the budget soon, we are only perpetuating the rapid decline of our school system as a whole. It is my hope that Essex will support an increased budget that will stop unfavorable cuts that diminish the quality of our education.
August Capotosto, Manchester Essex 10th grade High School student