By Chloe Marrapese
PACE! What is it? Why do we need it? Here’s some reasons why. Over the last two weeks I’ve been interviewing both students and faculty and the overall result is that Frontier loves the idea of PACE, but doesn’t necessarily love the way the block is being introduced. Many are optimistic that the details can easily be ironed out. One of the questions I asked the student body and the faculty is, “What was the biggest downside of advisory and how has PACE helped to change this?” I saw many of the same reactions and heard many of the same responses. The result was unanimous. Advisory was chaos and was too short to get anything done. Whether it was a meeting for a club or sport, or making up a test, 15 minutes was insufficient. With this answer there also arose the issue of accountability. Advisory became a time to run around from class to class, or go to another teacher’s advisory instead of your own. From a student’s perspective, this amount of time was just way too short to seek advice from a teacher and get anything done. PACE gives teachers and students one-on-one time to work through material and the ability for teachers to keep track of their students. Mr. Murphy shared some of his own personal observations. He and I met twice, first when the school year was just a couple of days in, and again two weeks into the semester. While discussing the pros of PACE he expressed the sentiment that, “A time to (pace) yourself with homework and get help from teachers is a good healthy thing to have.” Along with this Murphy also raised an issue that many students agree with when he said, “The arts always fought against the AP classes”. This was in reference to the idea that band and strings students now get a separate PACE block so they can pursue what they are passionate about, whereas in the four block schedule, the arts were often sacrificed and neglected. PACE gives an equal opportunity to students in all academic studies. This program can continue to succeed with some help from the faculty to straighten out the little things and some support from the students and other faculty. Going forward, some ideas that might be helpful would be an equal amount of students in each class and the trust in students to execute their homework independently.
PACE is a newcomer to the Frontier Regional 2020 Schedule; a 45 minute period in between second and third blocks allowing students to complete their schoolwork, similar to a study hall. The PACE block saw a controversial introduction among students since it came with the loss of Advisory, a 15-minute period in the morning that served as a short break for students to move around and socialize with their peers. In PACE, students are confined to classrooms with a varied number of students. Some classes serve less than 10, while others serve more than 20. With numbers as large as 20, it can be challenging to guarantee students a feeling of comfort, and even more challenging is the task of keeping them quiet. PACE solves this by enforcing a prohibiting students from socializing. A quiet work environment is reasonable, but it is important to note that the policy of silence adopted by PACE leaves students with little time in the day to socialize; particularly worrying when taking into consideration the importance of social development for teeagers. Yes, it is true that students lunches remain a possible time to socialize, and it can be argued that it is a good replacement for social time for those who support PACE. However, this ignores the fact that a lunch break is intended to be used to eat, and that the students lunch break provides them with very little time to socialize and eat in a satisfying manner. Further, and of particular concern is that the 22 minute lunch period is shorter than the state-mandated 30 minute lunch period required for a laborer’s 6 hour shift.
PACE also introduced hall monitors to Frontier Regional. Hall monitors are tasked with returning students roaming the halls during PACE to their respective rooms. Hall monitors were implemented with the intent of stopping students from roaming the halls, a behavior reportadely common during advisory. Hall monitors may serve their job well, but they strip any foundation of trust between students and administration. Being interrogated on a walk to the bathroom is not fun for anybody involved. Faculty tends to favor monitors; when asked, Frontier teacher Allison Walters vocalized her support for them.
There is no solution to any problem presented with PACE without compromise. When people are treated like children, they act like children, and students are no different. A quiet environment for students to work is important, too, as is time to socialize during the day. There may be a fair compromise though. Providing students with a 30 minute lunch by shaving 1-2 minutes from their A, B, D, and E classes would provide them with more time to socialize. Hall monitors may need to stay, however. There will always be students who refuse to follow rules, and Frontier doesn’t need another fire in the bathroom.