New Year, New School


Students learn to navigate a new bell schedule during virtual school.

Maeve Ridings and Walker Martin

After the decision made over the summer to maintain virtual learning and move to a 4×4 schedule instead of the block schedule, students and teachers were left to navigate a new type of learning. The 4×4 schedule, consisting of four classes a semester that meet every day, is a shift from the traditional block schedule that students and teachers are accustomed to. In addition to this schedule change, classes have become virtual for most students this year which poses its own set of challenges. 

Many students are understanding of the distinctive issues being faced this year. Junior Carly Hegemier said, “Overall it makes sense for being virtual, but it was weird to start the second semester because it felt like it was basically a new school year.”

Senior Diana Kim feels similarly. She said, “The 4×4 makes sense under the abnormal circumstances that we are in and there are definitely positives to having it this way.” 

However, many students are facing issues with the new schedule. Senior Ryan Marks is facing challenges with the new schedule. “I don’t like it at all,” he said, “I think one of the worst parts is how unlucky people can get with study halls. I had three classes last semester and I did not believe the 4×4 was difficult, but now that I have four high-level classes the work is starting to build up.”

Junior Emma Sexton also voiced concerns about the new schedule. “Having to do AP classes in the span of a semester results in a lot of work and it’s hard to stay on top of everything,” she said. “It also doesn’t give you the same variety each day that we had with the alternating schedule.” 

On the other hand, some students are finding the new schedule to be beneficial. Junior Haley Lenox said, “I like the 4×4 schedule because it allows me to focus more on the classes I have to do, especially in junior year where the classes are harder.” 

Additionally, some students found the new schedule allowed them more time to better manage their academic workload. Freshman Jackson Spillman said, “Only taking four [classes] has given me more time to pay attention and keep up with my work.”

Echoing this sentiment, freshman Jonah Klaff-Layman said, “The 4×4 class schedule is easier for day to day and short term consistency. I know exactly what classes I have automatically and they’re the only classes teaching me anything, so it’s easier for me to take in the information in the short term because I’ve received less diverse information.”

Most WAHS students expressed mixed feelings about the new schedule, but many chose to try to look on the positive side. Junior Austin Winslow said she is “just trying to look at how it benefits me since things could be much worse.” 

Some students also expressed an interest in trying the new schedule when schools return to normal in-person learning. Senior Natalie Farris said, “In the perfectly ideal school setting, I would have a 4×4 schedule at school in person.” 

The 4×4 schedule and online classes have posed unique challenges for WAHS students as they work to make the best of a year that was unexpected while still maintaining an optimistic outlook. Through the novel situations created this year, students and faculty at WAHS have worked to make the year the best it can be even in the midst of a global pandemic.