ScholarChips, Bell Schedules, and Blocked Hallways, Oh My!

Brentwood High School undergoes huge changes. Are they for the better?


Corianna Jackson

Students take a detour due to a blocked hallway.

Corianna Jackson, Staff Writer

The start of the 2018-2019 school year came with several new changes, including a new bell schedule, ID system, earlier start, and unique ways of trying to regulate traffic in the hallways. These new modifications initially threw many people for a loop, students and staff alike. The changes received some negative responses from students and staff as new systems and rules were applied in the first few weeks; however, with time to adjust, it seems that many are now getting used to the new protocols.

The change in bell schedule was brought to the student body’s attention in a letter sent to families a week before school started. Due to changes in NYS law, schools that did not already meet requirements regarding minutes per day were forced to start earlier and finish later. In Brentwood, this correlates to a new bell schedule and even fewer minutes between periods to get to class. “The school is is way too big for people who travel from one end of the school to the other, such as myself,” Monique Fletcher, a senior, explained. “I even needed a minute pass last year [when there was five minutes between bells] because I could barely make it on time as I headed straight to class.” The changes in the sound of the bells made it even harder to adjust. Many were wincing at the high pitched warning bell that had its trial run during the first week of school. Thankfully, the sound has become more pleasant.

To help with traffic, new systems have been put into place, mainly in Sonderling, where the hallway connecting the office to the lobby is blocked off between bells. However, this tactic managed to create some confusion for new students who haven’t learned their way around yet, and even more traffic in other places around the school. “You know it’s bad when there’s traffic upstairs,” one student commented. Students are also no longer permitted to walk outside to class between bells, getting rid of shortcuts for students who travel across schools.

Mrs.Crawford, the assistant principal of Sonderling, offered an explanation for this change. “The old lobby has always been a place for kids to congregate and hangout. Instead of going to class, they’d stand around and talk for two or three minutes, Now that there’s only four minutes between bells, we need the bell to ring and then kids to head to class. Blocking the hallway [to prevent people from standing around] is working.”

Students were informed about ScholarChip, the new ID system coming to Brentwood, at their designated assemblies that took place in the first few weeks of school. The system will feature kiosks set up at the main entrances of Sonderling, Ross, and Di Pietro Lobby. These kiosks will then be moved to the cafeterias during the day. The quick introduction to this system was met with mixed responses. For a lot of students, it felt like another seemingly unnecessary change. Mr. Gesseck, the assistant principal of Ross, explained why this new system was being put in place. “We are hoping that the ScholarChip system allows us to more accurately track student attendance and who belongs and comes in and out of the school.” The system is being implemented this year because the High School received money from a grant for this program.

Some people like the idea of a new system. “Anyone with 1/18th of a brain can recognize that the inconvenience is worth our safety,” one student expressed. Other students claim that there are just too many people in Brentwood for the system to work. “We top out at around 5,000 students, each having to get through the door while using a machine that will probably break,” Kevin Cabrera, a senior, concurred. More students took to social media, sharing their sentiments with claims such as “we don’t get a say in being chipped like dogs.”

However, the tracking will not be as intense as some students assume. Mr. Callan decided to set the record straight. “It’s another way of tracking who is in the building. It’s not tracking as in a homing device on top of you. It can’t tell us where you are,” he explained.

The system will feature a version for students and a version for adults, called the “Visitor Management system,” where adults will be scanned in and checked before being allowed entrance in the building. The passes given to them will turn a different color if they are in the building for longer than they are allowed.

Students will have to tap in with their ID cards every morning, but the process should be quicker than originally expected. The system even has the ability to count latenesses and print out passes after a certain time. After arrival, the machines will be moved to the cafeterias to monitor cuts. Students who receive red dot lunches won’t be affected.A notice about the ScholarChip system should be arriving on students’ doorsteps in the near future.

Other concerns about the implementation of these changes have also risen. For example, school starts earlier but many buses still arrive at the same times they have in previous years. Mr. Callan shared that this is an ongoing battle. Plans are in the works to ensure a smoother arrival to the earlier start time. These include adding alternative routes for teachers or asking the town to expand nearby streets.

Although these changes initially may have caused some confusion and concern, students and staff have started to settle into the new routine. A great lesson can be learned from this. Students should be given the information they need to navigate through new adjustments that greatly impact them. At the same time, coming into the new school year with a negative outlook doesn’t make administration’s job any easier. With more communication from administration and cooperation from students, this year has the potential to be great.