FSSA Changes its Bell Schedule

Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA) has always been an open space for its students to share their opinions. Various comments regarding the bell schedule change arose when many seniors and juniors yearned for the early dismissal of years past. There are many mixed opinions in regards to why and whether this change was positive or something that wasn’t necessary. For the 2021-2022 school year, first period now starts at 8:00am and 9th period doesn’t end until 3:28pm.

During the 2019-2020 school year, first period started at 8:10am and 9th period ended at 3:00pm. The school had also implemented a conference bell schedule where students got out of school on Mondays at 1:40pm.

The bell schedule at Frank Sinatra has undergone drastic changes due to extenuating circumstances. Like many things, this pandemic has altered different aspects of students lives—whether it’s having to wear masks everywhere they go, or completely changing the education experience for everyone.

For the gradutating class of 2022 these changes have progressively impacted them throughout their high school experience. 

“I think it was a good idea trying to maximize time in the classroom, but the outcome hasn’t been the best, especially for kids who live far away,” said student body Vice president, Mekhi Deleon. 

FSSA provides their students with one of the best art programs in the city. Students apply from all the boroughs of NYC in hopes of continuing to learn more about their major. The new bell schedule has affected students who already have long commutes to and from the school. And this is the most common, and arguably most impactful change, the later release from school.

Some students such as Natalie Mungin, a senior vocal major, expressed their displeasure with these changes. She specifically brought up the aforementioned later release, as she doesn’t mind coming in at 8 am, but coming out later can be hard because seniors are taking electives.

Senior instrumental major, Matthew Deutscher, reciprocated this sentiment. He also made it clear that he would love to have shorter periods, as he has noticed that in much of the time in between activities and at the end of class he finds himself bored.

“I would like it if the day was shorter, and 43 minute periods at the most, although 40 minute ones would be perfect,” he clarified.

Emma Wickers, a senior instrumental major, yet again purported the same proposal for shorter days; however, her particular situation highlighted another large issue in this change. She cited her commute as being severely affected by the longer days: coupled with the variance in the public transportation system due to the pandemic, she says her commute has never been longer.

“I’m leaving so early that it’s dark, and getting home so late that it’s night time.” Emma added. “For me it’s a big concern, and honestly a safety risk too.”

Jacob Cuthbert, another senior instrumental major, had a different point of view. He enjoys the longer days.

“I think it’s perfect. Although I dislike the longer periods. The year we had ‘off’ shouldn’t be a reason to extend the school day,” he said.

A clear consensus among most FSSA seniors is that the longer days feel strenuous and unnecessary, however, the principal of FSSA, Mr. Frankel, seems to think otherwise.

Mr. Frankel laid out his reasoning for the changes. He cites the lack of education during our time in remote learning as a focal point for these decisions, and this broad statement necessitated some clarification.

He strongly believed that after the pandemic, students would need to re-establish many relationships with not only their peers, but the staff and teachers in the school, and the only way to do that, in his words, was to “maximize the time in school and time in classes.”

Mental health was also brought up, and Mr. Frankel responded by emphasizing the weight in which this held in his decision, and that he believes wholeheartedly in opportunities for mental health support and mindfulness in the classroom.

Despite this line of reasoning, the discussion is still ongoing in both the student body and student administration. FSSA is a beautifully diverse school in more ways than one, and the opportunities that are available to students draw people from all corners of NYC. Despite the long commute and rigorous academic and arts based curriculum, students value the experience so much that they will endure. Despite all these obstacles, students still generally have a very positive opinion of the school and the way it is run.

– by Estefani Lopez ’22 and Jamie Bobko ’22