by Sama Karim | October 5, 2020
All around the world, students are stuck in this seemingly endless lockdown. Their academic schedules continue on, but what about their social lives? Saint Francis has responded with a shift in the schedule. Instead of the typical eighty minute classes, the school has introduced sixty minute periods with an extra hour at the end of each Gold Day for community time. So what is community time, and how have students and faculty used this time?
“Community time has kind of made its own name as [a] place where we can build relationships,” stated Mrs. Joanna Vollucci. As a computer science teacher and moderator for both Girls Who Code and Environmental Club, she noted, “It has become an opportunity to feel closer with the school and its people.” When asked how they used the allotted community time, students mentioned club meetings, homework, and collaboration. “Community time is what you make of it,” said Amelia Avila (’24). Due to the virtual setting, most students find it “harder to establish a community-like environment,” especially when most of them are not able to meet on campus. In fact, many freshmen explained how they found it difficult to connect with people during online learning, especially during awkward breakout rooms. Community time provides an opportunity to be surrounded by others with similar interests without students muting themselves or turning off their cameras.
Many students also had ideas on how to improve community time. Stuti Pandey (’23) mentioned, “It would be great to talk about issues in the school during community time, [like] things we would not generally discuss during class.” Amulya Aditham (’22) added, “[T]here is a difference between how you want to use [this time] versus how it is used.” Aditham, co-leader of the South Asian Student Association, expressed her hopes for a time where club leaders and members of affinity groups could meet to discuss their experiences from various backgrounds. Similarly, several students showed interest in a community time program dedicated to building relationships between underclassmen and upperclassmen. While all of these are appealing ideas, they each bring their own challenges, including the issue of timing.
With so many new and unique clubs, meeting times often conflict and students frequently find themselves torn between clubs. The one hour limit seems to be inconvenient for many, so clubs also tend to meet on other days throughout the week. Avila (’24) mentions, “It’s unrealistic to go to every single club meeting. Maybe leaders can add more meetings on Friday to spread out the [schedule.]” Pandey (’23), summed up most students’ perspectives: “Although community time has great intentions, I believe it isn’t used to its full potential yet.” Overall, as Mrs. Vollucci elaborates, “It’s great to see Saint Francis getting students back on campus. It’s almost like the school’s coming to life once again.” Although community time may need some tinkering, it seems to really bring Saint Francis closer together once and for all.
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