What Do Pentucket Students and Staff Think of the New Waterfall Schedule

Exterior of Middle High School Entrance. Photo Source: https://pentucketproject.com/about/project-design/

Exterior of Middle High School Entrance. Photo Source: https://pentucketproject.com/about/project-design/

Jocelyn Travis

The brand new Pentucket Regional Middle and High School has brought so many new opportunities for students and members of the community. It has been sixty-eight years since the original school was built in 1954. Since then, the school has had a typical seven-period-a-day schedule.


This year Pentucket has adopted a waterfall schedule which has changed the number of classes from seven to six classes a day. In the waterfall schedule, a class is dropped every day, and class lengths are extended to around an hour each. This may not seem like a big change, but students and staff have noticed areas where trouble is likely to arise. 


One potential pitfall that students and staff are concerned with is whether or not the new schedule will affect students’ productivity. Mrs. Ward, a biology teacher at Pentucket said, “Some students will benefit from additional time to complete work while others lose focus and struggle to engage for the additional time.” It can be hard to determine how this schedule will affect grades, but it could swing either way depending on how students use their time.


 In a survey conducted in grades 9-12, around 50% of 40 students said that they do not enjoy the longer classes, while the rest said they do not mind them. Many of the 50% said that they do not like longer classes because of their inability to focus towards the end of the class. 


Another issue students have been complaining about are the lunches. There are three lunches, and your fourth-period class determines which lunch you have that day. Many have said that the changing lunch schedule is “unclear” and even “confusing.” For some students, it can be hard to find friends or people to eat with because it switches every day.


An additional concern that students have expressed is the length of passing time between classes. The passing time is currently three minutes long, and with the school being so large, it can be difficult for students to make it to class on time. One student said, “The three minutes between classes is not enough time if you have a class on the first floor and you’re trying to get to the third floor.” In addition, the traffic in the hallways makes it hard to get somewhere in a timely manner.


While the new schedule has already experienced a lot of backlash, only 20% of students who participated in the survey think that dropping a class affects their ability to learn. Some of the reasons were because it prevents consecutive growth through classes, and also how students need a consistent flow of information to successfully learn a topic. 


Some of the downsides of this schedule can be difficult to disregard, but there are also many great opportunities and advantages as well. Guidance counselor, Mrs. Millard, said “The longer class periods help me get more work done and be more productive.” Longer class periods can be beneficial in many ways and can give students more time to work on assignments in school, rather than completing them at home. With the new schedule, student-athletes, and others involved in extracurriculars have more time to complete work. Not to mention, this can help improve student grades in the long run and reduce the amount of stress a student may experience after school. 


Sophomore Annie Point said that she “likes the change in classes,” and finds it favorable how “You don’t have to stick to the same schedule all year.” With the classes switching every day, a fresh schedule presents students with the opportunity to avoid the mind-numbing effects of a repetitive schedule. This may benefit those who may not like having a class in the morning or the afternoon.


 Overall, this schedule can be very confusing and useless for some students but can be beneficial for students who take advantage of it. The change in classes can help break up the monotony of the day and help students have a better chance at success. I often find myself looking at the clock soon after class begins and hoping class is almost over. The longer class times can be tedious but it feels good to know that I have more time to understand and finish the material given in class. Additionally, for students, school is a second home. Since we are always at school, it is crucial to make it a comfortable environment and take advantage of time in school, so that once you leave for the day you can enjoy your time outside of school.