Blue Flag, Green Flag

Every Sunday around noon, shortly after he starts his shift, security officer Bob Carey climb up a step ladder outside of Reed and changes a brightly colored flag from blue to green or back again.

There are no symbols on the flag, no images or words, but for students and faculty at The Williston Northampton School, the block of color that flies from the Reed Campus Center is an important reminder of the week ahead.

“I haven’t heard anyone say that it has saved them yet, but that’s the hope,” said Associate Head of School Jeff Ketcham. “Whether it will solve anything I don’t know, but it’s got to help.”

Earlier this year, the Williston administration unveiled a new class schedule, which converted the previous four-week rotation to a two-week one—identified as “blue” and “green” weeks in honor of the school’s colors.

Ketcham said that response to the new schedule—which featured a seventh period, standardized 60-minute classes, free periods, and departmental meeting times—had been “overwhelmingly positive.” But, he said, the shift had required a bit of adjustment.

Ketcham said he had heard about a few episodes of schedule confusion during the start of the year, when students and faculty headed to the wrong class on the wrong day, for example. Although the weekly schedule colors were posted online and shared via email, Ketcham decided to buy two flags as campus reminders of the schedule.

“I thought this would be a good visual way to be clear which type of week it is,” he said. “It came purely from trying to get people adjusted to the new blue week/green week.”

Photo by Paul Schaittacher

The 3-foot by 5-foot flags were initially hung from the flagpole in the center of the quad, Ketcham said they weren’t easily visible beside the more prominent United States flag. After a week, they were moved to the front of Reed.

Students such as Rosie Lacas ’14 said that the flags are clearly visible reminders of the schedule.

“I think it’s definitely helpful if I forget like, ‘Oh do I have Saturday classes this week?’” Lacas said. “I look at the flag and it’s blue and I go ‘Oh! I do. Darn.’”

Ketcham hopes that the schedule will become second nature so the flags will no longer be needed. Until then, though, they will continue to fly from the front of Reed.

“When [the schedule] becomes ingrained and part of culture, maybe we won’t need them anymore,” Ketcham said. “Maybe [the flags] will just help us get there a little faster.”

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