How Long is Too Long? The Ongoing Discussion on LRHS Blocks

Screenshot: Petition

The ongoing debate about how long school days should be at LRHS has been brought to by one driven LRHS student.

This year, for the first time in three years, Lakeland Regional High School has gone back to the original 80 minute blocks that were in use before the pandemic. During the pandemic, during the 2020-2021 school year, there were half days that ended around 12 p.m., and then 70 minute blocks during the 2021-2022 school year. Now, we have returned to the 80 minute blocks again, and honestly, it’s too long.

The change back to 80 minute blocks has raised a spark in students who are now claiming that they are too long, and honestly I have to agree with that.

Freshman Robert Clifton started a petition on in order to get a later start to the school day, which would in turn shorten blocks. The petition has over 200 signatures from LRHS students. In the reasoning for the petition he shares, “Starting school 30 minutes later could help students get the recommended amount of sleep, which in turn could improve their academic performance, mood, and overall well-being.”

I believe that these are very strong points that he has made, as I see myself more focused and happier with more sleep in the morning. Clifton told the Ledger, “I created this in order to raise awareness of the students’ needs. I’m hoping to get a few more signatures in order to make it more official. I was really glad to see that it had reached so many people already.”

Many other students have agreed that 80 minutes is way too long. Junior Melia Territo said, “Last year’s schedule worked a lot better. It was much easier, and that extra 30 minutes at the end of the day really does make a difference. I liked ending at 2:08 better.”

When teachers were asked what they thought about class times most said almost the same things the students had . When interviewed by the Ledger, English teacher Ms. Jamie Cawley said, “80 minutes is too long for students. It’s hard to keep their attention for that long, and I often start to lose them around the end of class. Something like 60 minutes would be better because it’s still enough time to do a lot of activities in class while keeping the attention of students.”

In an interview with another English teacher, Mr. Donn Reeves, he said, “It’s hard to keep everyone working and interested in 80 minutes of class. Most students start to lose attention halfway through class. Shorter classes would work better because we can still get enough done while being productive.”

In contrast, some teachers actually prefer that amount of time. One of LRHS’s art teachers, Ms.Valerie Gawron, said, “Having 80 minutes is beneficial to an art class like this because it allows students to have enough time to set up, get work done, and clean up all in one block. But I can understand why 80 minutes would be seen as long to most students. It’s a long amount of time to be sitting at once.” Additionally, Lakeland’s Computer Applications teacher Ms.Tammy Ozdemir also said, “I love my 80 minute blocks. Since this is a project based class it gives me enough time to teach a lesson and allow for my students to work on their projects in class with significant time.”

On the student side, what I personally notice most is that after about 50 minutes students start to slowly fall off, and I have experienced this myself. Some will put their heads down, go on their phones, or stop paying attention all together. It’s hard to keep working all throughout the entire block just because of how much time it is.

According to Cross River Therapy, students between the ages of 14-16 and older can only pay attention for 32-50 minutes at a time. After that, most will become distracted or uninterested in what is being taught in class.

Having 80 minutes can be beneficial to some classes like arts or P.E., but for more academically driven classes, it can lead to disinterested students who are not getting the most out of their time and education. If LRHS had slightly shorter days or classes for students, it could help a lot with the overall well being of students mental health and well being.