New bell schedule and increased traffic frustrate some students

Traffic+near+Western+Avenue+following+dismissal+of+DePaul+Prep+and+Lane+Tech+on+Monday%2C+November+5%2C+2022.

Ivy Frater

Traffic near Western Avenue following dismissal of DePaul Prep and Lane Tech on Monday, November 5, 2022.

Ivy Frater, Editor, Campus Beat

Last year, a group of administrators and faculty members met over the course of two months to reevaluate the daily schedule. They eventually came to the decision to lengthen the school day by twenty minutes, moving the dismissal time from 2:45pm to 3:05pm. The first reason was finding a different time for advisory. Last year, many students disliked having to come to school early on Vincentian Days for advisory, so when reevaluating the schedule, faculty found it important to find time during the school day for advisory. 

Students Grace Connolly and Jillian Carbonara both agreed that having advisory during the school day is much better for them than having it before Vincentian days, as, “it is shorter and less often.” 

Another priority was finding time during the day for clubs.  Dr. Stanton-Anderson believes that, “clubs are an important part of the high school experience for students. We wanted to make sure that even kids that are in theater or choir or athletics after school can still be a part of clubs.” Therefore, faculty and administrators decided that the only way it would be possible to have time for advisory and club meetings during the day, would be to add some extra time to the school day. After they came to this conclusion the next step was to look at different schools’ schedules who had built in this “activity period,” and adjust DePaul Prep’s schedule accordingly. 

This decision has affected students in many ways. Sophomore Zoe Pileggi takes the bus home from school every day. She has noticed that, “All of the Lane kids driving have blocked up parking lot traffic. It takes an extra 30 minutes to get out of the parking lot. The [CTA] buses have started coming later since they are so full of Lane kids and they’ve stopped loading everyone into the buses.” This has caused problems for her, as 2-3 days a week she goes to sailing practice at Belmont Harbor after school.  While Pileggi used to be able to get to practice 15 minutes early every day, giving her enough time to change and prepare for practice, she is now struggling to make it by 4:00, when her practice begins. 

Pileggi is part of a group of students who wrote a letter to the student government demanding change. In this letter, they describe how the later end time has started to affect students who work part-time jobs. As the buses continue to run late from increased ridership near dismissal, these students are missing appointments or job shifts.

Ashlyn Steensma works two jobs, at a boutique on Southport Avenue and a pizzeria.  Because of the later school end time, she has had to push back her shift times from 3:30 to 3:50. Because of the increase of traffic, it is impossible for her to get to work before then. After pushing back her schedule, she has found the traffic to be less harmful.  However, she is actively searching for a solution to this problem as she says, “The only thing I wish is that we could cut down our passing periods by just a few minutes to make it so we have a tiny bit more time before the Lane kids get out.”

Student athletes have also been impacted by this decision.  Many Fall season sports teams have meets or games which require them to get out of school early.  When school ended at 2:45, students would only miss about fifteen minutes of school.  But, now that school ends at 3:05, students are missing thirty five minutes of essential in-class time. Assistant Athletic Director Sammy Colon believes that the later end time can help athletes learn important life skills, as students have learned the importance of, “having to plan, be organized, and develop quality communication with teachers, coaches, and parents.” 

Sophomore Theresa Cunningham is on DePaul Prep’s field hockey team.  The later end time has hurt her, in her view. “Since we end so late I can’t spend as much time getting food, so a lot of time I don’t even eat before practice.” When school ended at 2:45, students had more time to change, eat, and prepare for practice.  With the new bell schedule, the time athletes have to get ready for practice is decreased, leading some to struggle to get ready on time. 

Students have noticed more traffic in the mornings as well. Even though the start time has not changed, there has been more traffic getting to school this year compared to last year.  This has not only affected DePaul Prep students. Lane Tech students are also experiencing some changes. Lane Tech Sophomore Sofia takes the bus to school every day, and while she has seen some increase in traffic in the morning, she says it seems like there has been more change on the Belmont Bus, which both Lane Tech students and DePaul Prep students take every morning.  

A possible explanation for the dramatic increase in traffic is the quick rate at which the DePaul Prep student body is growing.  Over the past two years, DePaul Prep welcomed the biggest ninth grade classes that DePaul has ever seen, increasing the student body to over 1,000 students. As the school continues to grow, so does the traffic. Additionally, a new daycare on Addison and Rockwell opened recently in 2021, bringing a whole new demographic of commuters to our neighborhood.  This daycare, called Kids Work Chicago, serves over one hundred kids, with most parents dropping off their kids around 8-8:30. This has only further increased the time it takes students to get to school. 

Dr. Stanton-Anderson recognizes all of these issues and is committed to solving them. She jokes that, “It sure is full around here,” as she discusses working with the Alderman to do a traffic study on our school. In addition, in January another meeting will be called to reevaluate the schedule to see if any changes will need to be made based on student, parent, and faculty feedback.