Blackout Days to reduce stress, relieve maintenance schedules

Eddie Jin, Staff Writer

Administrators have decided to reimplement an initiative called Blackout Days, two to three nights per month where the school will designate certain calendar days to be free of non-essential events after 6 p.m.

“Over the past several years we’ve fallen into a practice of keeping students after school and well past the late bus on more than just a handful of occasions. In addition, Saturday and Saturday evenings have become popular program venues and practice times for all sorts of events beyond athletics, theatre and music,” Head of School Dr. Tom Kelly said.

Blackout Days were first implemented to help students’ well-being and work in conjunction with other shifts to reduce student stress, including the shift to semesters and removal of AP classes and final exams, Head of Upper Division Dr. Jessica Levenstein said.

“Students will rise to any occasion,” Dean of Student Life Dr. Susan Delanty said. For this reason, Delanty believes students need “unscheduled time” away from school activities, she said.

“In all their enthusiasm, students sometimes overload on activities,” Levenstein said. “We were hearing from families that they never see their kids.”

Another factor prompting the introduction of Blackout Days was to ease the schedule of the Maintenance and Public Safety Departments, Delanty said. “Our calendar was bursting at the seams,” Levenstein said.

Director of Public Safety Mike McCaw believes the vacant nights will ease the stress on security staff, he said. With fewer events, less staff are needed to control vehicular traffic and maintain operations, McCaw said.

Nonetheless, security staff will still man the campus at all hours, McCaw said.

While preventing some extracurricular activity, Blackout Days are not projected to obstruct regular events.

“A Blackout Day does not mean that at 6 p.m. everybody has to vacate the school; it just means we can’t put additional things on the calendar,” Levenstein said. “Often a club or an adult at the school is interested in finding a day to put an event in. The Blackout Day just means don’t touch that day; it’s full enough or comes at a time when we all need a break.”

Richard He (12) often finds that concerts and other additional events can add more pressure during already stressful times, he said. “Knowing that certain days will be open to just study is a relief,” He said.

“As we consider how health and wellness play into a successful journey at HM, so too does rest and time with family and even friends,” Kelly said.