Abigail Teodori '19
The dismissal bell releases you from your 7th period class to finally run to your friends at the end of a Friday. However, this school year is different— you get to run to your destined friends from your AcLab who are in the same grade level and share the same first letter of your last name as you. Every AcLab on a Friday for four years of high school is an automatic gathering with these students.
Staff and students who opposed this policy right from the start call it ‘Feelings Friday’ to mock the policy, but these two words define exactly what it is. After two weeks of stress building up due to countless assignments, extracurricular activities, and even college applications for seniors, sharing one positive and one negative highlight could just be enough for students to let out their stress before taking it home with them on a Friday. Students are more willing to talk to those who are in the same situation, so this policy may be an alternative outlet for those who want to talk to peers who can relate to them.
Once students start to share about their day, they can interact with other students besides their friends who they see almost every single day. On the first day of AcLab Friday, my AcLab played Bingo to meet new people. Especially for incoming students, it will be another convenient way for them to make more friends who they do not have any classes with. With this policy, students are able to build relationships with others in their AcLab. On their graduation day, they will not be sitting next to strangers. Rather, they will be walking down the stage alongside those they have known throughout their whole high school career. They will experience the last high school milestone together as they did with the start of their high school years.
Other than just an opportunity to meet others, students also get to explore new ways of thinking that they’ve never been exposed to in a classroom setting. Once my AcLab teachers came up with the idea of a game where students try to engage in a conversation without mentioning the words ‘school’ and ‘college’. These activities allow me to think about topics I would never think about, such as how students choose to make school and college related to anything they talk about even though it has no logical relevance at all. Friday AcLab can be a time for students to expand their thinking without having the pressure to do so for a grade.
This policy will benefit students as well as the school. On Fridays’ short AcLab, students usually rush to report to their AcLab on time. However, since students are supposed to stay in their AcLab until dismissal of the school day, they would not be late so their attendance performance will improve while the overall attendance rate for Jones will increase. It is a win-win situation for the students and the school.
This policy will only work if students are open-minded to whatever happens in their AcLab. If students from the very beginning are against this idea, then they will never understand why Jones initiated this policy. Even if they hate the idea, they will never learn the other side’s perspective in order to improve this idea and make it more effective. Likewise, AcLab teachers should try to plan activities that they believe students can learn from beyond the contents of the school curriculum. If we try to work this out and keep an open mind, this could end up as another tradition that sets Jones apart from other schools.