Community Night Not Off

Zarah Zhao, Staff Writer

Community Night Off was originally created in the fall of 2014 by Assistant Principal Jackson to facilitate a night with no homework, no electronics, and no extracurricular activities. A seemingly positive experience for the entire academic community, students and teachers alike were supposed to decompress and interact with their families. However, despite the best intentions of the administrators, the event lacked cohesiveness, which is crucial to the success of school wide events.

Community Night Off, while seemingly logical, is ineffective and fails to actually relieve academic stress or encourage family interactions. The problem with the event is simple — not all teachers participate. The fundamental basis of a night off is a night with no homework, but when not all of the teachers are  willing to set aside their curriculum for a day, the entire event collapses. The crux of the issue is that many teachers, in particular those that teach Advanced Placement classes, hold a mentality that the rules can be bent, or even simply broken for their class. This is because none of the usual district policies stating that teachers are not allowed to assign homework on the weekends and during breaks apply, and they apply a similar mentality to events such as Community Night Off. Because such classes are “college-level” courses and students are suitably warned that the courses are rigorous and time is short, teachers feel justified in their actions. Many fail to acknowledge Community Night Off or even briefly address the issue of homework on that day, as “there is simply not enough time to halt curriculum for a day”. However, better class period planning beginning school earlier clears up the academic calendar to accommodate the tight schedules of AP teachers.

Furthermore, there is the ever-present loophole that teachers can assign homework on Community Night Off, but mention that the homework “technically” can be done on the next day due to the block day schedule. Thus, teachers are able to follow their lesson plans while still following the school rules. Even when teachers adhere to the rule of no homework,much  of it is often due at the end of the week. Taking a night off only leads to increased stress and workloads later on in the week when homework and test dates begin to pile up.

This creates a cohesive feeling of wariness and apathy towards such events, and  the irony of the situation is that the classes students need the break from the most are the classes not granting that time off. Despite ASB’s efforts, events planned in collaboration with Community Night Off, such as the Multicultural Community Potluck, go ignored. The malevolent cycle is perpetuated as students come to expect homework and upcoming tests on nights off and in turn, ignore other events.

In order to truly provide Irvington’s overstressed, sleep-deprived students with the reprieve from schoolwork they desperately need and crave, the school administrators need to not only recognize the ineffectiveness of their solution, but create a better one.

A more feasible solution would be a Community Day Off . Such an event would far better relieve academic stress and provide students with the flexibility to plan their day as they see fit. Not only would they be able to catch up on sleep and interact with family, they would be able to catch up on work or get ahead to cut down on academic stress during the rest of the week. Although such a solution would result in the loss in educational minutes, extending block days to end at 3:05 PM instead of the usual 2:30 PM would balance that out.