R-block Situation Plagues IHS

Jack Gardner and Nick Hawwa, Contributor


The new schedule, imposed this year, has caused a lot of changes in Ipswich High School. There are both positive and negative changes, but regardless of their type, they affect both students and faculty.

One of the most highly debated issue created by the new schedule is R-Block. No matter who you ask, you seem to get a different answer on the periods intended use. Teachers often say, it is a time for students to ask questions and work on projects, when students believe it is a time to put a dent in their homework load.

During the planning stage, the administration chose a small group of teachers and students to conduct meetings to sort out the different pieces of the new schedule. The biggest job of this committee was to design R-Block by defining it and choosing how it is used. Jesse Cullen-Popp was one of these student representatives. During their meetings Jesse voiced his opinion that R-Blocks should be “used for kids to personalize activities out of the classroom like clubs and music as well as keeping up with homework.” More or less, Jesse’s idea for R-Block has been used since the beginning of the school year. I say “more or less” because in reality Jesse’s voice was not heard on the extent of all of the student body. Rather, it is more luck that R-blocks have been reverted to a Directed Study like period. When asked, “Do you think your voice, as a student, was heard?”, Jesse answered, “I do think my voice was heard, but not to a degree adequate for representing the entire student body.” Currently, the school is aiming to change the used of R-Block, reverting it to its intended purpose as a time for clubs and projects.

For students taking challenging courses the new R-Block system has created multiple problems, the largest being time. I sat down with Cowan McCormack, an IHS student who takes a number of challenging courses, and spoke with him about the effects of the new R-block. During most R-blocks, Cowan usually tries to put a dent in his large amount of homework or ask teachers questions regarding tests and projects. When asked, “What would you do if homework was not an option during R-block?”, Cowan answered, “I probably wouldn’t sleep!” Although some students do not use R-block to its potential, a vast majority of IHS students take challenging courses. A designated time slot in school is essential for these students to stay ahead on their work and get answers to important questions.

Finally, I met with the President of the Interact Club, Andrew Fremont-Smith, and spoke with him about the new R-block schedule’s effect on Interact. One obvious take away from our meeting is that the frequency of Interact meetings has decreased. Frequent meetings are extremely important for a club. Without structured meeting times it is very hard to develop organization and move forward with the club. Along with the lack of frequency, Andrew said he finds the new R-block schedule “to be a huge hassle.” This hassle is due to the fact that “there is an organizational issue and not enough communication.”  The decrease in frequency and lack of organization has made it difficult for Interact and other clubs to find time to meet.

The R-block situation is a highly debated one. Students and faculty seem to never see eye to eye on its intended use. But, as time progresses students see the future of R-blocks remaining as a time for homework and extra help.