Students struggle with new bell schedule


A new bell schedule implemented at Poolesville High School in August is raising concerns among some students due to inconsistency from day to day, a fact that is leading school administrators to consider changes later this fall. 

“One thing I have said to staff and student leaders and so on is, last year we changed the bell schedule at the semester break based on student and staff feedback.” said Principal Mark Carothers, “We are giving this a shot and if there are some issues or it’s not working or it’s not looking like we wanted it to or whatever the case may be we can also adjust.”

The previous year’s bell schedule centered around a two-day, 45-minute format that included Falcon Time on Tuesdays and advisory lessons on Fridays. This year’s schedule is significantly different.  Every day except for Wednesday there is a rotating 19-minute block of Falcon Independent Time (FIT) intended for students to get their work done, while on Wednesdays there is a standing 25-minute time slot after second period in which teachers present life skills lessons and mental health tips.  

 The point of the schedule change was to create more Falcon Time for students allowing them to get help in all classes without making prior arrangements.

“You would have more regular opportunities to touch base with those teachers if you needed it or work with other individuals in that class if you needed,” Carothers said.

The change in the bell schedule was due to the bell schedule survey that was conducted for all students, staff, and parents at the end of the 2021-2022 school year, but the significant differences in each’s days schedule were unexpected and have caused issues for many students that leave the building to take different classes and internships throughout the day. 

Senior Gabby Jacobs, who participates in the ROTC Program at Seneca Valley High School, said she goes through these challenges on a daily basis. With the rotating schedule, Jacobs said she can be anywhere from 40 minutes early to the school for her next class or a few minutes late depending on the day.

“When I get to the school I never know what class period we are in,” Jacobs said. “Every day I have to ask [school staff] to make sure I go to the right place.” 

This new schedule in theory provides more time for students to complete assignments during school hours, but Whole School SGA President Jordan Su noted that the rotating of FIT everyday through the seven classes lacks continuity. Su said he has talked to many students and generally people have concerns with this bell schedule. 

“Most survey responses leaned toward having more of FIT but not necessarily more frequent FIT,” Su said. “… 20 minutes does force us to use our time effectively but trying to cram in lots of assignments and studying can also be counterproductive. I think it should be 35 minutes for the most optimized amount of time.”

While the path forward for changes remains unclear, both Carothers and Su believe that if there is needed change in the schedule to further benefit students, there are several options that can be considered.  

“Our SGA and admin are always working to find the best options for the schedule and right now, lots of students have expressed concern with the current one,” Su said.