Irvington Staff and Students Participate in Community Night

By Medha Acharya | Staff Writer

Irvington High School partnered with “Race to Nowhere” director Vicky Abeles to create a first-ever “Community Night” aimed at getting students to spend more time with families by removing homework. The initiative, Assistant Principal Mr. Jackson said, was fueled by findings that students are being severely impacted by heavy homework loads, averaging 17.5 hours per week according to a University of Phoenix study. The American Psychological Association has found that one in every four teens reports “extreme stress” levels during the school year that drops during summer, and an alarming 30 percent of students are depressed due to stress. Part of Abeles’ #BanBusy campaign, a national project to de-stress students, the Community Night was greenlighted after 80% of teachers stated they were willing to participate.

Students were excited about a night of no homework. “This gives students a great chance to bond with families,” freshman Hannah Lee said.

Junior Shubham Gupta added, “I liked it because it coincided with the release of the ‘Advanced Warfare’ (video game).”

While many teachers removed homework or altered assignment due dates that Monday, many students still had homework. Biology teacher Ms. Sharma gave no homework, but said that only two of her advisory students had no homework that night. Health teacher Ms. Gavin stated, “I am all for improving mental health, but I feel like some teachers didn’t really care as much and thought the curriculum was more important.”  Students and teachers alike thought this would have been more successful had there been less homework given out. “Maybe next time, all teachers can participate and give no homework,” said band and math teacher Mr. Anaya.

However, there were many students who found the initiative to be a success. “I had a little bit of homework, but I finished it before my parents got home,” sophomore Roxy Snyder said. “We and my brothers got to spend a lot of time talking and catching up on each others’ lives, something that we don’t get to do often.” The questionnaires filled out by students give very similar responses, describing students’ ability to have a more relaxed day.

Overall, the response to Community Night was very positive, and students, most teachers, and administrators want to hold another next year as well.