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friends’ central school

FOCUS Volume XXXIX, Issue I

1101 City Avenue Wynnewood Pennsylvania 19096

Focus’ Plans for This Year by Peter Dissinger ‘14


and Emilia Weinberg ‘14

ello Everyone! We are Emilia Weinberg and Peter Dissinger, and we are excited to be the Editors-in-Chief of Focus for the upcoming school year! When Oliver and Ben handed us the reins to Focus last April, we began brainstorming about ways that our school newspaper could be better. Our plan was simple: we wanted to revamp Focus so that it was a more exciting, entertaining and integral part part of the Friends’ Central community. We sent out a schoolwide survey last year to see what the faculty and student body wanted to see from us in the next school year. We also had our own discussions with Dr. Patterson and the staff. While it is impossible for us to show you all of what we are planning to do this year, we think that these four points are a good preview: 1. This year, we will be switching to a semi-thematic format, in which one half of most issues will be dedicated to a specific topic. We also plan to dedicate the other half of our pages in each issue to what’s happening at Friends’ Central. As a central part of this “FCnewS” section, we will begin to do Teacher Spotlights as well as continue our student spotlights: Phoenix in the




Phast Lane and Artist in the Spotlight. We are going to rededicate ourselves to being the voice of Friends’ Central. We plan to include guest writers (both faculty and students) in each issue. We feel that this diversity will give Focus more credibility as a newspaper and provide a fresh insight into the Friends’ Central community.


September 2013

Meet the Senior Staff

n important change to the Focus Staff this year is the addition of six “Senior Editors.” Since issues take a lot of cooperation and hard work, we will delegate more tasks to the Senior Editors than in years past in an attempt to efficiently put issues out that are thoroughly revised. We’re excited to introduce Max Luzuriaga and Jordyn Karliner as the Senior Layout Editors, Max Ginsberg as the Senior Sports Editor, Emma

Xu as the Senior Diversity Editor, Chiara Neilson as the Senior Arts/Entertainment Editor and Kate Forrest as the Senior News Editor. Maya Rosenberg and Isabel Nardi will also serve as staff writers this year Each will play an integral role at Focus this year and together, we are going to work to put out monthly issues that highlight, interest, and celebrate Friends’ Central School. v

To appeal to a larger body of readers, we are going to include a “Dear Abby” advice column and an Underclassmen Perspective, covering a variety of topics. Lastly, we feel that our online presence will be important in the upcoming years. We will begin to publish new issues and other articles on our Facebook page and website. That way, issues are more accessible to students and faculty. We also find that too many issues are being wasted at Friends’ Central and are either thrown into recycling or never even picked up. We will be cutting the amount of printed issues by about 25%. v

See Focus’ Guide to the New Schedule on the back side

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September 2013

Focus’ Guide to the New Schedule intro by Peter Dissinger ‘14 and Emilia Weinberg ‘14


answers by Ms. Novo

riends’ Central is no stranger to schedule changes; the current Senior class has already experienced two schedules. This year is no different. As many students have noted, this year’s new schedule is complicated. We now run on a 6 day rotating schedule that revolves around Wednesday, which has a specially permanent sequence of classes. The order of classes does not depend on the day of the week any more, but rather whether it is an “A” Day, “B” day, etc. So, to make the transition easier for students, Focus went to the Dean of Faculty, Ms. Novo, to help create a clear and concise guide to the new schedule. Why has the schedule changed again? The schedule we have used for the past two years was a transitional schedule, so it’s the next (and maybe even final!) phase in a long-range plan. The transitional schedule let us get used to some of the features of the new schedule which include double blocks and skip days. Why did the School choose this particular version of the schedule? For a long time we’ve wanted to create a single integrated schedule on the City Avenue campus, one that has the Middle School, Upper School and athletic programs on the same schedule. For instance, the Middle School will be able to keep its weekly service program and athletics program during the school day. The Upper School gets more class time, since we will have only one skip day for each class every seven days. An integrated schedule is great for students and teachers. This year, for instance, we have two 8th graders taking an Upper School math class. In the past it has been difficult to teach in both Middle and Upper Schools because the schedules didn’t really line up. The uniform schedule will also make it easy to schedule cross-division programs (such as Upper School language classes working with Middle School language classes). What is different about it? I’ll start with something I think everyone will appreciate: classes will end on Tuesdays at 2:35 rather than 3:10. On most Tuesdays (all but the second Tuesday of the month), teachers will be available until 3:30 for academic help. This might also be a good meeting time for clubs that need a lot of time together, such as the Core Teams or Model UN. Athletic practice will begin at 3:30 on Tuesdays. Another difference is that we’ll start school 5 minutes earlier (at 8:25) and end five minutes later on Fridays (2:35). We’ll also have a 15-minute break every morning at 11:10. The main structural difference from our old schedule is that we will use a rotating schedule for class blocks 1-6, with the days being labeled A-F. The schedule will begin to repeat on a different day of the week each time it starts over. The first “letter day” of the year, for instance, is A Day on Friday, September 6. The following week has B Day on Monday and C Day on Tuesday...and so on. Block 7 and all non-academic time (things like Chorus, Assembly, lunch) will still happen at the same time each week. SO, in order to know what a day’s schedule is, you need to know both what day of the week it is (Monday) as well as what letter day it is (B Day). The exception to the rotating days is

Wednesday: every Wednesday is the same as every other Wednesday. It doesn’t have a “letter day” designation, and all the classes meet--each in a single block--on Wednesdays. Why are Wednesdays different from the other days of the week? The Middle School wanted to preserve its service program, which has many Wednesday off-campus commitments, so it couldn’t be scheduled into a rotating system. The Upper School wanted a day when teachers had a chance to check in with all their students (no skipped classes). The solution was to rotate around Wednesdays. What free time do I have now to use for clubs and socializing? If you look at the graphic of the schedule, you’ll see that we still have community time built into the schedule, though it’s no longer called Blue and White and it all takes place in the mornings. There are three community blocks (Tuesday at 9:50, Wednesday at 11:10, and Friday at 9:10) during the week, as well as time on Tuesday right after school when teachers are available. The vocal groups will meet on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during community time. You’ll also continue to be free during one of the two weekly Chorus blocks if you’re not in Chorus or taking PE during that block. When will tests and major assignments happen in the new schedule? We’re trying a new system this fall. On every day except Wednesday, the three classes that meet between 9:10 and 12:40 may give tests and collect major assignments. For classes that meet in blocks 1-6, this offers three chances to test and collect major work in every 7 day period. This system makes it very easy to keep track of when classes may have tests, and it reduces the chance that students will miss tests because of late arrivals or early dismissals. The morning is generally a good time of day for testing and it offers a number of ways to accommodate extra time for those who use it. Block 7 classes will be able to test on any day, providing that no student has more than three tests/major assignments in a day. Block 7 is also the only block allowed to test or have major work due on Wednesdays. Wednesday is a “reset” day when all classes meet; since students will prepare for all their classes (no skipped class on Wednesdays), they will not be expected to study for tests in any class except their block 7 class.

What is the deal with block 7? Block 7 is different from the other class blocks. It meets in two double blocks and two single blocks each week, skipping Fridays. (Block 7 happens at the same time every week: Mondays at 1:55, Tuesdays at 1:55, Wednesday at 12:00 and Thursday at 1:55.) 9th grade rotation is scheduled in Block 7 and includes a new weekly class in Human Sexuality with Mr. Vernacchio. Block 7 meets for more class time per week, but in the long term, figuring in off days, the amount of time between the other blocks and Block 7 is about the same. Why is Community on Friday’s schedule right before the Assembly Block? It offers flexibility for occasional longer programming for assemblies and other exciting events that we previously had to try to squeeze into 40 minutes or encroach on class time to accommodate. There is one weekly class switch built into the schedule. In order to have our community time on Fridays in the morning instead of the afternoon, the block that usu-


ally meets at 9:10 will move to 1:55 on Fridays. That’s a different block depending on what “letter day” falls on a Friday. On our first Friday of school, for instance, which is an A Day, block 3 is scheduled to meet at 9:10, so it will meet at 1:55 instead. On the following Friday, which is an E Day, block 1 will make the switch. This switch only happens on Fridays, so on every other weekday, block 3 meets at 9:10 on A Day and block 1 meets at 9:10 on E Day. Will this schedule help to prevent the “homework wave”? And, if so, how? Spreading out the class days and skipping each class only once a cycle should help reduce the log jam of bunched-up assignments. We hope the new system for test days and major assignment due dates will also help, but we’ll reassess how it’s working at the end of the trimester and ask for student feedback. We’re always eager for suggestions to reduce academic stress, and we know that the homework wave is a big source of stress. v

Staff Writers: Anna Sorenson ‘15 Caroline Bartholomew ‘15

Editors in Chief:

Grant McCord ‘15

Emilia Weinberg ‘14

Hannah Kaminsky ‘15

Peter Dissinger ‘14

Hannah Wenczel ‘15

Senior Layout Editors:

Isabel Nardi ‘14

Max Luzuriaga ‘14

Jessica Miller ‘15

Jordyn Karliner ‘14

Julia Barr ‘15

Senior Diversity Editor:

Julia Stern ‘15

Emma Xu ‘14

Marissa Gratz ‘15

Senior News Editor:

Maya Rosenberg ‘14

Kate Forrest ‘14

Rose Gendelman ‘15

Senior Sports Editor: Max Ginsberg ‘14 Senior Arts and Entertainment Editor: Chiara Neilson ‘14 Photographer: Noah Silvestry ‘15

Saoirse Hahn ‘15 Sophie McFarlane ‘15 Stefan Sultan ‘15 Faculty Advisors: Steven Patterson Jeanette Kelleher

Focus september 2013  

The student newspaper of the Friends' Central Upper School