Is Tuscarora UnFLEXible?: A Look At the Effect of FLEX on the Attitudes of THS's Loud & Proud

By: James Cassar

Our very own Tuscarora High School may have been the crown jewel of Leesburg’s many firsts, including a state-of-the-art football stadium and brand-new technology, but as with all trendsetters, there comes a time with blazing a new trail is uncomfortable, and a hot seat on the bandwagon seems like a more attractive option. Already in motion in other district high schools long before ground was broken on the Home of the Huskies, FLEX is an alternative to study hall that focuses on both marginal instructional time and expediated help in classes. Is this a welcome change to the study hall that occupied our inaugural year’s 6th block, or is it a needless step towards conformity to the rest of the LCPS family?
Former SCA president Connor Skaggs knows what Tuscarora High School has changed pretty well, but he’s content with the shift in focus. “FLEX gives you more access to your teachers and makes it easier to stay on top of your classes,” he comments. Like the rest of the student body, he plans to use the 69-minute (minus the 20 minutes of RISE read time) period to stay caught up on assignments and homework. His main concern? “Will our teachers eventually get into the habit of using FLEX as an additional class or will we still be able to get our work done?” Judging by the increasing volume of students ponying up to Advanced Placement-level courses, it can be inferred that a resounding chorus of “Please don’t” could be heard echoing around the school.
The one thing that remains consistent from last year is RISE Read Time. Any way you slice it, this period of silent sustained reading (or in some cases, staring blankly at a textbook like a walking dead man) is either a blessing or a curse. With AP Lit clogging everyone’s literary arteries and people who actually like to read becoming more endangered than the common polar bear, it’s all about perspective on whether RISE floats your FLEXing boat. Senior Nick Karstetter is one of the few, the proud, the readers; he’s a member of the Howler literary magazine and creatively writes to boot. “I can understand the concept of RISE to encourage independent reading, especially in an increasingly illiterate day and age,” he reasons earnestly, “however, when reading is forced on students, the experience is overall an uncomfortable one.” Washington D.C. may be ranked #2 for literacy by Central Connecticut State University, but just like any high school, Tuscarora is bent on taking top prize with their touted 20 minutes.
RISE Read gripes aside, with the addition of higher-stakes raffles (the addition of a $130 Kindle from anonymous teacher donations is an alluring prize) and a Hogwarts Express-like snack system, FLEX Fridays might actually breathe some fresh life into the tired-but-true study period. Only time will tell if these positive attitudes stick. But until then, continue to FLEX those muscles.