The Extinction of Arts Block

During a recent Morning Meeting, the student body received news that may have been a little disconcerting to some. It was the announcement that the popular Arts block would be exterminated, and arts classes will become a part of the normal rotation next year. The auditorium erupted in not so quiet murmurs at the news, giving way to an immediate reaction of distaste from several members of the community. The initial thoughts ranged from frustration about the loss of free time, to the “pure joy” and indifference of the seniors.  Scott Weinberger admits that, “I haven’t pondered [the schedule change] because it doesn’t directly affect me.” Cassandra Knaggs ’17 says,”I used arts blocks to catch up on homework and socialize.” Pheby Liu agrees saying that, “[arts block] was  one of the most convenient times to get stuff done before your last class, now I’m not sure what I’ll use.”

To some Hawken students, Arts Block may have seemed like a tradition. The first thing to remember is that Arts Block is only three years old, and was created because a large number of students, in all grade levels, participated in performing arts. Because of the grade differences it would have been difficult to find a time when students from all grade levels could meet and have enough time to practice together. There was also the other variable of Ms. Langmack, who was teaching strings ensemble at both upper and lower campuses. That being the case, the school had to create a period that would be the same time, every day to accommodate the teacher. As of now, the issue of Ms. Langmack’s commute is no longer a problem (she only teaches at the lower school, now).  Dr. Smith also added that, “With two instrumental groups in arts block, Mr. Castellanos, who is the conductor, cannot do strings, concert/jazz band, and chorale all in the same period,” so a longer chunk of time would be extremely helpful. Another issue that surfaced among teachers is the idea that students may have been dropping arts courses to socialize with others during arts block, thus defeating the purpose of the period. This makes some faculty members believed that the student body is not being very productive. Dean of the Class of 2015, Sra. Botella is excited for the changes saying,” I believe that this is a great opportunity to make Arts possible for students.” These factors contributed to the end decision of the disposal of what some would call a normal arts block.

To dispel any rumors, the first thing to understand is that Arts Block is not entirely disappearing. It will become like any other day in a student’s rotation, taking the role of “G ” block. “G” block would then be just like a regular A, B, or C block; a student can use this new block to pick up another class or leave it empty. Freshman Ben Weiss says, “I used Arts Block for homework, but now I’ll have another free block during the rotation to get it done. It will be nice since it is more time even though it is less often.” Naomi Wu ‘16, who plays the flute, explains, “I thought it would mean less time to rehearse, but then I realized that we would get long blocks. Instead of 40 minutes, we’d have 70 minutes.” In the same fashion, Cassandra Knaggs ‘17 went on to state, “Generally I am upset about [the elimination of Arts Block] because I used that time to catch up on homework, but if it works best, then I can’t really argue.” These changes will be taking effect at the start of next year. If students have any remaining questions they are encouraged to speak with their advisors.