A board-approved IMSA calendar for the 2023-24 school year has been released, in addition to the Principal’s Report, and several changes are in store for the coming year. New programs include PROMISE 2.0, an extension of the summer SIR program for CLED students to be offered both on the IMSA campus with the advisory of Dr. Thurmond and at the physics department of Northern Illinois University, and an expansion of Intersession from one to two weeks to serve as a more vital part of the academic experience. The Acronym interviewed Mr. Paul Gaszak from the Principal’s office to discuss the rationale for and significance of new programs and other changes to the calendar.
For class scheduling, the most significant change will be the addition of a support period for all students between sixth and seventh mods. According to Mr. Gaszak, this period would help students more easily access and schedule help from their teachers, giving students a daily opportunity to improve their academic experience. One aspect of the support period was its potential to succeed where Titan Crew failed. Chief among the distinctions between Titan Crew and the support period is Titan Crew’s restrictions on the time and place of meetings and its limitation of one teacher, as opposed to the freedom of movement and teacher accessibility offered to students by the support period. Mr. Gaszak said that the time could also be used for other purposes besides academic support, such as club activities, with the overall goal of the support period being a “more robust involvement” of students. Some time for the support period would have to be taken out of midday, although midday would still serve its original purpose for the students and not be shortened too much. While the efficacy of the support period has yet to be seen, possible benefits should not be overlooked.
The two-week intersession proposed by the new calendar would expand the current intersession program not only in timespan but study material and learning potential as well. Mr. Gaszak noted that this new intersession would serve as an opportunity for in-depth student research and be a bridge to SIRs and internships, and could have the potential of offering for-credit learning opportunities as well. Students on travel intersession would also greatly benefit from additional time on their trips. Mr. Gaszak told The Acronym that he envisions this new intersession as “a more vital part of the academic experience.”
The structure of IMSA’s extended breaks will also significantly change, with the return of virtual learning for two days in both the fall and spring semesters to allow for easier student pickup at the beginning of extendeds, and the end of abbreviated days. There will be a week-long fall extended in early October, allowing students to prepare for the second quarter, and giving seniors ample opportunity to visit colleges. The Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving break will be “virtual engagement” days, which, according to Mr. Gaszak, would be more focused on specific assignments or discussions for classes as opposed to full virtual classes. There will also be two of these virtual engagement days during the April extended break. Spring break will return to a more regular time period at the end of March, which would make it easier for families to coordinate different breaks. IMSA extended breaks will still maintain their original purpose, but the end of abbreviated days and the addition of virtual engagement days are changes that will hopefully improve efficiency.
IMSA can expect a multitude of changes to its schedule in the coming year, with new ideas like the support period, two-week intersession, and virtual engagement days being implemented. These new schedule features will give students greater flexibility in how they spend and structure their time, and, hopefully, their implementation will be for the better.