We are excited to announce the introduction of a new bell schedule at Bellarmine, beginning in the 2020-21 academic year. The new schedule will offer a better pace to the school day while also enabling more opportunity for students to build friendship in community, explore new interests through enrichment electives, and find meaning through Ignatian experiences. It will enable students to engage more deeply in their intellectual, personal, and spiritual development and it will allow Bellarmine more freedom to develop as an Ignatian community of learners focused on faith, justice, and truth.
More detail will be provided in the spring as we get closer to the 2020-21 academic year, but some preliminary information is provided below.
Why is Bellarmine Moving to a New Schedule?
Although our current schedule has served us well for many years, its limitations have made it increasingly difficult for us to meet the needs of the school. At times the pace of the schedule has crowded mission-centered activities and made life-balance more challenging. The current schedule also leaves little room for the introduction of new courses and enrichment opportunities for students. Reflecting on our mission and how we would like to spend our time, we’ve designed a schedule with the following objectives is mind:
- Promote deeper learning and opportunities to explore new interests
- Support life-balance and a less frenzied pace to the day and week
- Provide more room for mission-based experiences and spiritual growth
- Create more opportunities for student-student and student-teacher interaction in community
- Create more student leadership opportunities
- Build more support for social-emotional learning, wellness programming, and discussion related to personal growth
Our goal is a schedule that gives students more opportunity to engage in the activities which define the Bellarmine experience and helps them to develop intellectually, spiritually, and personally.
What Will the New Schedule Look Like?
The structure of the schedule follows an 8-period rotation with four, 65-minute class periods per day. Monday through Thursday there is an additional 50-minute Community Time period during which all faculty, staff, and students are on campus, but no classes meet. The 8-day rotation of classes, as well as the daily bell formats are provided below.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Benefits of the New Schedule?
The new schedule addresses many of the limitations of the current schedule and enables a range of exciting opportunities for students. The list of benefits includes:
- Fewer class periods per day allowing students to prepare more effectively each day; longer class periods for deeper learning
- A regular free period for all students (The Cura Personalis Period), allowing for a break in the day or an opportunity during the school day to complete work
- Fewer transitions between classes for better utilization of class time (the average student takes 13 minutes to mentally transition from one subject to another)
- Better student access to teachers during the school day
- Opportunities for students to explore new interests through enrichment electives
- A lunch period that is a true break in the day (not filled with competing activities)
- Introduction of the Cura Personalis Meeting for personal growth and student wellness
- A more balanced pace to the day and week
- A slightly later start time to support student wellness
What is Community Time?
Community Time is a 50-minute period occurring every Monday through Thursday during which all faculty, staff, and students are on campus but there are no scheduled classes. During this time, students are expected to exercise the responsible use of freedom. Students might choose to attend a club or CLC meeting, participate in intramurals, meet with a teacher or counselor, catch up on homework, spend time with friends, or simply take some personal time to rest. Many of the activities that used to occur at lunch will be moved to community time, allowing for the expansion of some programs and protecting lunch as a true break in the day. Community time will also be used periodically throughout the year for liturgies and assemblies.
What is the Cura Personalis Period?
Cura Personalis is a Latin phrase which refers to “care of the whole person,” and it is a hallmark of Jesuit education. The Cura Personalis period is time built into the schedule that is dedicated to the development and wellness of the student as an individual. On some days this could mean extra “choice” time for the student to get a jump on homework or a break during a busy day. Periodically, during his Cura period, the student will attend a meeting with a small number of classmates, led by his personal counselor. The “Cura” meeting is a safe venue for discussion of a variety of things ranging from social-emotional topics, exploration of faith, fostering healthy personal growth and exploring college aspirations. Students will be supported by Cura meetings through their four years at Bellarmine. During the freshman year, additional Cura programming is planned to help freshman transition into the Bellarmine Community and high school life.
What research went into this change?
Our schedule explorations began with a school-wide assessment by Independent School Management (ISM) in September of 2018. ISM is an international consultancy focused on school improvement and enriching the student experience. ISM took a close look at the daily flow of our school and interviewed students, teachers, and parents, before presenting several recommendations to the faculty. In October 2018, a faculty schedule committee was formed not only to discuss the ISM recommendations, but also to take a broader look at the school’s mission and how various modifications to our schedule could enhance the mission. The committee spent most of the 2018-19 school year collecting input from faculty, students, and parents, talking with teachers and administrators from other schools, and reading the latest research about school schedules and their effect on student learning, engagement, and wellness. The committee processed this input and worked to design a schedule model that would best meet the needs of our students and the goals of the school. In the spring of 2019, the committee presented its recommendation to the faculty for comment and revision. The recommendation was subsequently accepted by Kristina Luscher, our principal. We are excited by the possibilities the new schedule will bring to the Bellarmine community and to the academic, spiritual, and personal development of our students.
How do I make sense of the 8-day cycle?
In the new schedule, all odd-numbered periods meet on one day, and all even-numbered periods meet on the next. The periods within each day rotate to support better student learning. One way to make sense of the rotation is to note that each day of the 8-day rotation is named for the first period of that day. For example, Day 3 begins with period 3. That first period is the starting point for the rotation for that day. So, Day 3 begins with period 3, and then rotates: 3, 5, 7, 1. Similarly, Day 4 begins with period 4, and then rotates: 4, 6, 8, 2.
At what time of the day will Community Time occur?
As a “flex” period, Community Time can be placed anywhere in the daily schedule. After talking with other schools and gathering feedback from faculty and students, the committee decided in the 2020-21 school year, to try Community Time in the morning during the fall semester and in the afternoon during the spring semester. In the spring of 2021, we will solicit input from students, teachers and parents before making a final decision on the location of community time. Note that community time will occasionally move to the middle of the day, just before lunch, on the days on which community time is used for a liturgy or an assembly.
When can I expect more information?
Students can expect some additional schedule details as they begin the scheduling process for next year. More information will be shared later in the spring semester. There is much planning underway and we are excited by the possibilities the new schedule will bring!