Students Find New Habits in Virtual Block Scheduling


Ellie Kubicki

Ellie enjoying her morning workout!

A year ago, virtual school was the last thing the average high school student at Berkley would have expected. But, here we are, and it is quite different. In years past, our school days were very structured. From the 8:15 a.m. bell to the 3:30 p.m. bell, every minute was meticulously planned for us. And when our physical time at school ended, most of us focused on homework and extracurricular activities. Our days were consumed by all things school. Thanks to virtual school and the new block schedule, our days have a different focus. We start the school day 45 minutes later and end it an hour earlier, which gives students more free time than ever before. Our days now have a lot less structure, opening up opportunities to expand our focus beyond just school. Some students have found that they are much more productive in this new normal, while others are struggling to self motivate.

Many students are taking advantage of having only three classes in a shortened school day. Some are starting their days with a non-school activity. Some, such as Junior Ellie Kubicki like to get in a morning workout before school. Kubicki stated, “Working out before school really starts my day off right. It makes me feel good and productive, which helps motivate me for the rest of the day.” Others like Junior Ella Werkmeister spend their mornings making early coffee runs. When asked about her coffee trips, Werkmeister stated, “Because of the later start, I can go get coffee with friends, and it’s a great way to start my day!” And they do not even have to wake up earlier than usual to do these things. Some are taking advantage of the late start by getting an extra hour of sleep in the morning. In addition to a later start, ending the school day an hour earlier has been a real benefit to the student body. Senior Aaron Sugarman’s football practice still starts at 4:00 p.m. just like in years past, but he states, “Ending school at 2:30 p.m. is really nice because I have time to relax and do my homework before football.” As a busy senior, Sugarman takes advantage of all the free time he can get, so knocking out an hour of homework before football practice makes a huge difference in his day.

“Because of the later start, I can go get coffee with friends, and it’s a great way to start my day!”

— Ella Werkmeister

However, it is not all positive for Sugarman because he actually feels like he has “become less productive because of the minimized structure.” The unstructured day has caused him to be less motivated to get things done, and he is not alone. Many students find that there are pros and cons to this new way of life. While the highly structured school days of past years have not always been exactly fun, many students are more productive in a more time restrictive environment. But for most, the pros outweigh the cons. While the reality is that we still have about the same amount of schoolwork, the fact that we only have three classes per day makes it feel like our days are much lighter.

Our virtual schedule is an unexpected opportunity to be more independent and explore our individuality and to develop structure ourselves rather than have it forced upon us. Once we get past the obstacle to self-motivate, our options are endless. Now is a great time to pick up a new hobby like working out, meditating, reading, art, or even binge-watching that show you never had time for in the past. It is time to focus on yourself!