Central’s Responsibility in Making School a More Positive Experience in September

Noah Berkowitz

As we near the end of a long and difficult school year, the conversation arises of how school could be improved for the following cycle. Clearly, this past year has been an irregularity in thousands of different ways, but some of the changes made might be beneficial for students if they were made permanent moving forward.

For starters, while highly unlikely, keeping the hybrid schedule could prove to be extremely helpful to students’ wellbeing. I can say from personal experience that half days have actually made it easier to learn more material. On top of that, having extra time after school to complete homework allows students to dedicate more time towards their own mental health. Mental health is an extremely big part of everyone’s lives, and high school students can have a particularly tough time maintaining a positive mindset. The shortened school day enables students to prioritize the most important aspects of their lives in a more reasonable manner, rather than rushing to complete work, participate in a multitude of extracurriculars, and have virtually no time left in their days to improve and reflect on themselves. With a statistical increase in stress for teenagers documented throughout the pandemic, it begs the question of whether allowing students to utilize a hybrid schedule would serve a more beneficial role. 

Similarly, the virtual Wednesday has been a key implementation at the start of the 2020/21 school year. This change has separated the week into two sections, providing us with an at home day to recuperate mentally and physically while still engaging in a learning experience. The trade off for this virtual day seems fair as well: increasing the length of the day to a traditional full day schedule. The hecticness of juggling responsibilities is an extremely difficult task; the virtual day in the middle of the week gives students a slight break without failing to make progress academically. 

Continuing, a large amount of focus next year should be on inclusion. Throughout the United States, there has been a major spike in Anti-Asian hate crimes as a result of the pandemic. Hunterdon Central has first hand experience of dealing with racially insensitive incidents including–but not limited to–the offensive photo mocking George Floyd that circulated on social media and the vulgar racial epithets that were repeated by a perpetrator during a school-wide zoom meeting. Due to the continued targeting that minorities struggle with each day throughout the nation, it’s on Hunterdon Central to promote a safe and inclusive environment where regardless of race, nationality, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, students are welcomed and respected. The school must make a visible effort in protecting these students. Last summer, hundreds of Hunterdon Central students participated alongside other members of the public in protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder; actions such as protesting racial inequality need to be promoted in an educational atmosphere so everyone can begin to realize the issues that continue to plague our nation. It’s time that we stop beating around the bush, and instead confront the societal injustices on a local, and national scale.

 Lastly, our school prides itself on the amount of opportunities it is able to provide for students. While this is true, improvements can be made in the promotion of these potential opportunities, along with the addition of clubs or classes that appeal to creative or non-linear thinking students. It’s extremely important that Hunterdon Central facilitates independent thinking, rather than the standard factory-like learning process. The implementation of classes that teach topics such as activism, leadership, or international relations, as well as clubs that specialize in music production, graffiti art, or jewelry-making would make significant changes in student engagement and morale. If we don’t try and teach our young adults that there are thousands of different avenues to pursue, how many brilliant minds will we lose out on?

Having conversations about how our school could be improved are extremely significant to the progress the students that attend it make. Receiving suggestions from the student body can not only change Hunterdon Central for the better, but the education system as a whole. Change has to start somewhere, why not have it begin here?