How Students Use Their Precious Free Blocks


Credit: Ms. Motyka

Students are extremely busy from the moment they wake up until they go to bed. As the school year goes on, the days get longer, and students look to find useful ways to use their free time.

With the amount of work students receive, they rely on their free blocks, free time, and study hall to get it done. The time after school is filled with club meetings, practices, games, and dinner. Some kids may be able to get some work done between all these commitments, but also some kids may need 45 minutes to an hour to recharge, sleep, socialize, or work on things like college applications.

Joe Easton, a senior day student from Southwick, Mass., has a variety of places he goes to on campus in his frees.

“During my free blocks at school I usually go to the library to get my homework done,” he said. “Once in a while I will go to the Stu-Bop with some friends and get a bite to eat.”

Alexis Caines, a senior day student from Shutesbury, Mass., likes to get a quick walk in to grab something before getting work done.

“I also can be commonly found at Dunkin’ to grab a quick latte before doing some homework in the library,” Alexis said.

Popular among students, Dunkin’ is located at 60 Union St., a quick walk from campus.

Alexis tries to get her work done in her free blocks but does not always get the chance to finish it all.

“It’s never enough time to do all my homework,” she said. “But it affords me enough time to get some done to have less at night. I have to finish some at home.”

Boarders can go back to their room whenever they have free time. Day students, however, are not allowed in dorms during the week. Most day students spend their time in Reed, in the Stu-Bop, in the library, or the gym. It is common for both boarders and day students to go into town to grab a bite to eat during their free time.

Dyson Haaland, a senior boarder from Silver Spring, Md., tries to utilize his is free blocks for work, but finds it hard staying focused on schoolwork after one class and before another.

“I recently started doing homework during my free,” he said. “But it takes a lot of motivation since the last thing I want to do after being in my classes is more work.”

Students typically have three to five classes a day.

Many teachers use their free blocks to prep, provide extra help, or for department meetings.

For some students, the hour free block or double free (two free blocks back-to-back) is filled with some sort of commitment they have to attend. New this year, sophomores meet once a week during their free period for a CORE class. This is similar to the freshman year CORE class that rotated with a monitored study hall. Instead of learning about nutrition, safety, and stress like they did freshman year, they now learn about sexuality, safe sex, and sexual anatomy. This is mandatory for all sophomores. Juniors also have one of their frees turned into either college counselling meetings or classes. Seniors have their frees co-opted by college counselling meetings. Most kids who volunteer as tour guides get tours scheduled during their frees. On a similar note, juniors and seniors who apply to be Admission Interns will meet during one of their frees.

Sophomore Alyssa Matricciani from Greenville, S.C., thinks that what is taught in her CORE class is important to address, so she is okay with having it fill one free block a week.

“Although I do wish I could utilize my sleep in and lunch blocks, Ms. Davey and Ms. Garrity make CORE a welcome place to feel uncomfortable, to learn, and to understand ourselves,” she said. “I don’t think there is really a question of if I could use the block ‘better,’ because if I didn’t have CORE, I would just use my sleep in or do homework during the free part of my lunch block.”

Dyson thinks the school could do a better job of offering students scheduled and unscheduled time.

“I wish that there was more time during the day to recharge and relax rather than have a jam-packed schedule,” Dyson said.

Alyssa is comfortable with her schedule.

“Although sleeping more and getting my homework done does help my stress levels,” she said. “There is ample time after school and during study hall for me to do my work or take naps.