Community Time should be prioritized as a free period for students

Oren Minsk, Assistant In-Depth Editor

Often times, I find myself in an assembly during Community Time instead of completing schoolwork, attending a club, meeting with a teacher or socializing, which makes me wonder why my Community Time is being taken away. I would personally rather miss a few minutes of each class for an assembly, instead of missing Community Time.

CESJDS tries a variety of methods to decrease the stress of its students and it appears to be a priority to the administration. According to the George Lucas Educational Foundation, a foundation dedicated to transforming K-12 education, “both students and teachers benefit from using unstructured breaks to reduce stress.” This begs the question: Why does JDS take away Community Time if it is proven to reduce student stress?

Sometimes, the various programs and assemblies that replace Community Time should either be eliminated or made optional. For example, during the eight days of Hanukkah, there is a menorah lighting ceremony instead of Community Time. The school should not be forcing students to participate in a religious ritual in which they do not want to attend, or in which they have already completed at home. Rather, it should be voluntary, and students should be able to have Community Time during this period.

On top of that, though, Community Time is a chance for clubs to meet weekly, some of which meet exclusively during this short, 25 minute period.

As a member of the JDS Junior State of America chapter that meets on Wednesdays during Community Time, I have been upset that we were often unable to gather due to assemblies or other mandated activities this year. It is unfair to take away one of the few times that clubs have to meet. Clubs cannot simply change when they convene because of scheduling issues.

If the school wants students to partake in activities or attend assemblies, it should not be during the students’ free time. If the school wants us to attend an assembly so badly, why not cut out two minutes from each class, each of which is already nearly an hour long?

What bothers me the most about canceling Community Time is the little warning given. While the school made everyone aware of special schedules via email early in the school year, it is unreasonable for students to have to dig up old emails and check daily to ensure that they know the day’s schedule.

Additionally, there is usually a notice in the front of the school when there is no Community Time, but I often plan when I do my work the night before or earlier, so a notice each morning as I walk in is not all that helpful.

One notable time this caused a problem was earlier this week. On Monday during lunch, I overheard someone explaining how high school would not have Community Time and instead have class immediately after lunch, due to a special assembly at the end of the day. I had no prior knowledge of this and was planning on using my short break to do work.

Although I was almost late to class due to a lack of warning, I care more that many students, including myself, may have had meetings or other events planned during Community Time and need a heads-up.

Students should be able to assume that there is Community Time, rather than needing to check daily or being made of aware of the situation in a potentially bad scenario.