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The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

Free Periods: A Must for Upperclassmen

Aaron Widjaja
Current junior Sienna Swanson works during her free period, D block.

As an underclassman, I constantly hear upperclassmen, especially juniors, recount their experiences with having a free period. After discussing with older family members, I have never been more excited to consider having a free period in the next two years. Having one free period per year is essential to ensure that your year will turn out well academically and mentally, as it gives you time to do homework, allows you to regroup your thoughts and goals and provides the opportunity for self-exploration.

Designating a time to do homework is essential, especially if you’re taking harder classes. As you grow older, the rigor of the classes you take will become significantly more difficult, which leads to more homework, tests and quizzes. Additionally, if you’re taking extracurriculars and participating in sports, the time crunch makes it increasingly harder to finish all your homework while having enough sleep. Having a free period allows you to set aside this homework time, giving you the opportunity to catch up on work you were previously unable to complete. Conversely, if you just finished a class and want to complete the work upfront so that you do not have to worry about it, a free period would be the perfect chance to do that, allowing for a better work-life balance. Some teachers also may not have classes during your free block, so you can utilize that time as extra office hours to talk to teachers and get the assistance you need; you aren’t forced to wait for long periods of time just to get five minutes of conversation. Although I am not yet an upperclassman, my personal experiences with having a free period to help with homework are all positive. I have been able to complete my homework on time while getting the chance to review concepts and even sometimes meet with teachers when necessary. 

Another benefit of taking a free period is that it can help you reorganize your thoughts and de-stress. While going to Menlo, the stress students face is intense, and sometimes it can have a toll on your mental and physical health. Therefore, allotting time for yourself is essential to calming down, especially if you’re feeling pressured. Also, if you’re struggling with adversity at any point, having a free period provides you the opportunity to meet with counselors and get assistance with managing your tumultuous emotions. You can also use free periods to sleep, which is essential for your mental health. According to a study from the National Institute of Health, “sleep helps your brain work properly. While you’re sleeping, your brain is getting ready for the next day. It’s forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information.” In other words, sleeping can help you prepare for upcoming things, which could range from having a test or just being ready for the rest of the day. Therefore, free periods give students the freedom to sleep, which can help them reset, because it’s common knowledge that Menlo kids just don’t get enough rest!

Lastly, a free period allows for the exploration of projects and interests that you might not be able to get outside of school. Everyone has some kind of interest, whether that would be something sports related or an academic project. According to a blog from Krayl Funch, an accomplished home and event stylist, as well as project enthusiast who draws her designs from nature, passion projects fuel creativity, nurture your dreams and help you gain confidence by making a significant impact on the world. Having a free period will allow you to further explore your interests at a deeper level and with more passion. If you’re struggling to find time and energy for your passions, you can allocate your time accordingly to get work done with a free block. Compared to a noisy classroom environment, having a free allows you to separate yourself from distractions and focus. 

Overall, to increase your chances of a healthier year, both academically and mentally, it is crucial for you to have one free period per year. This allows time for homework, regrouping thoughts and goals and self-exploration. When I become an upperclassman, I hope to continue taking a free period for these reasons, and I encourage you to take one too.

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About the Contributor
Aaron Widjaja, Copy Editor

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 2

Favorite aspect of journalism: My favorite part of CoA is being able to express my views through writing.

Interests outside of school: Playing Lacrosse and spending time with friends

Class of 2026

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