New schedule for 23-24 removes colloquium, reduces FRESH period, among other changes


On May 15, the DePaul Prep administration sent an email to students regarding changes to the schedule for the 2023-2024 school year. These changes included FRESH being reduced to only two days a week, co-curricular meetings removed from the school day, late start and early release days, and the removal of Vincentian Days. These changes led to mixed emotions from students.

The decision to change the schedule was made by the school’s leadership team, instructional leadership team, and student government. It is a part of the process of DePaul Prep attempting to find a schedule that works best for the school’s shifting needs as a fairly new institution.

One major change is the removal of the FRESH period on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Currently, the FRESH period is used as a time for students to meet with teachers or clubs, so that every student has an opportunity to participate in co-curriculars, no matter their outside commitments. However, with the new schedule, students will not have time during the school day to meet with co-curriculars, so those meetings will be shifted to before or after school.

However, as Principal Dr. Stanton-Anderson notes, “We did not find that the FRESH schedule was really allowing solid meetings, and we couldn’t tell if kids were going to the meetings other than when moderators told us.”

The FRESH schedule led to some students taking advantage of the period, and using it to wander, so the school administration made the decision to remove the period all together, except for two days a week where it will be used for advisory. The current advisory schedule will stay the same, and when your grade level does not have advisory, it will be a study hall or time to meet with teachers and complete assignments.  

This decision may harm students’ ability to participate in clubs in the same ways they were able to this year. As a lot of students participate in sports, they may not be able to make meetings before or after school, potentially decreasing their participation in co-curriculars. 

Junior Sephi Favela is going to be president of International Club next year but says that she is nervous about the schedule change as having clubs after school feels overwhelming with other outside commitments. 

Sara Conneely, the Model UN moderator at DePaul Prep believes that, “moving clubs to before or after school will give students the opportunity to prioritize what is most important to them. Students will have to make some hard choices in how they want to spend their time and how realistic it is to be involved in several clubs and be a multi-season athlete.”

Conneely continued, “Having a smaller group of more dedicated club members is more beneficial than having tons of ‘members’ who never show up to meetings, events, or competitions. We want our clubs to be safe spaces for members to explore their interests and passions.”

Because FRESH was removed on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the leadership team chose to use early release days on Mondays for faculty to participate in necessary trainings, DEI sessions, and planning meetings, which this year often took place Wednesday morning before Vincentian Day. 

The new schedule also leaves a built in time for liturgies, assemblies, and pep rallies. According to Dr. Stanton-Anderson, these would occur roughly two times a month on Fridays, leaving the other days as early release days, where students will be dismissed at 2:20, right after their last period of the day. 

Some students dislike the new schedule because of the start time of the late start days. This year, every other Wednesday, students came into school at noon, as opposed to 9:10 AM on the new schedule. 

“I personally just liked being able to get to school at 12:00, so the fact that they’re making late start at 9:15 is honestly super annoying,” said sophomore Claire Keck. 

However, disagreement with the new schedule is not universal. Many students actually like the new schedule better than the current one. Junior Izzy Morales noted the early release days as a benefit. 

“I love the new schedule coming for the 2023-2024 year because it allows the students to get out earlier and go home to rewind and relax and do homework.”

Junior Ezra Quintero agreed. “I love it so much that we get out earlier on some days,” he said.

Another major change is the removal of Vincentian Days. Vincentian Days, or colloquium, were school days every other Wednesday where students would choose a special class to take from 12:00 to 3:00. They were focused on a wide variety of topics, such as archery, knitting, and even watching movies. Some colloquiums left campus, like DePaul Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, which went to different restaurants around the city, and Reading Buddies, which went to Old St. Mary’s School and read to a first grade class.  Vincentian Days were first implemented two years ago in the midst of the COVID pandemic and according to Dr. Stanton-Anderson, “lots of things were closed and not open to kids, but we really wanted kids to get out into the city after being shut out for so long.” 

However, because DePaul Prep is a rapidly growing school, the faculty doubled in size in the last two years. This resulted in many teachers leading colloquiums after not being involved in the original planning process, eventually leading to disorganization, with some colloquiums not being aligned with the original vision for learning outside the classroom. 

Another major issue was the number of students absent on Vincentian Days. Around 125-200 students did not come to school each colloquium day, with around 70 students consistently skipping.  As Dr. Stanton Anderson states, “It’s serving a lot of students but there must be something that we’re not getting right, for so many people to be making the choice to not come to school every day. So that was disappointing to us and I expect disappointing to a lot of kids who were enjoying colloquium.” 

Vincentian Day was popular with some students, causing some disappointment that it will be removed next year. Junior Jillian Carbonara says that she, “liked having colloquium on Wednesday since it was a nice break during the week.” 

However, this belief was not held by all students. Quintero, for instance, expressed he will not miss Vincentian Day.

Another issue for Colloquium, specifically this year, was some students did not get their top choices. This led to student complaints and attempts to switch to different colloquiums. However, this did not work out for all students, as most colloquiums were capped at certain numbers. So, if the colloquium you wanted was full, you might end up in one you were not interested in at all. With all this switching around, the process could become chaotic at times. 

Nevertheless, colloquium might not be gone forever. It could potentially be reworked and brought back in the coming school years. Dr. Stanton-Anderson comments, “We have to recognize that when a school tries something new or different like that, kids have to participate, they need to show us that they think this is important, otherwise we stop doing it. We’re committed to trying something but we just don’t know what it will look like just yet.”

The main principles of Vincentian Day, bringing learning outside of the classroom, are still being explored and used in new ideas of experiential learning trips taking place in the coming school years. Next year, the administration will plan out some experiential learning trips, which would be field trips to places around the city directly related to what students are studying in their classes. For example, science teacher Claire Kaminski brings her Anatomy students to a cadaver lab to watch cadavers be dissected. English teachers are also planning field trips for some classes to attend productions of plays.

With all these changes, it’s important to remember that DePaul Prep is a new school and is still figuring out what the ideal school day would look like. It is a difficult job to balance the needs of everyone at a school with one schedule. As Dr. Stanton-Anderson reminds, “There’s no perfect schedule.”  This schedule might not be forever, as the school administration is still exploring what would be the best fit for DePaul College Prep. 

Throughout all these changes, the mission stays the same. Dr. Stanton Anderson’s goals for the school are, “I want DePaul Prep to be a school that is unique and that allows students to have both really strong educational experiences and learning inside the classroom but also has opportunities to do that same kind of learning outside of the classroom, using Chicago as our classroom.”