Seven IBETs means seven times the swarm

The administration creates seven IBETs to accommodate 550 freshmen


Eric Feng

Students walk in the crowded Turing commons, one of the IBET commons, to get to class.

Aarya Kumar and Eric Feng

With the largest-ever incoming freshman class pouring into Turing Commons, one additional Integrated Biology English and Technology (IBET) section formed this year to accommodate the class of 550 students. 

“Class size really does have an effect on teacher workload, and it means I have to make some tough choices about projects, papers, and what they’ll look like so that I can handle grading,” English teacher Dr. Michelle Boswell said.

The increase in class size and the current social distancing mandate have caused some classrooms to be cramped.

“I think we’re trying to balance the importance of team and relationship building in classes [with] trying to keep social distancing in place and being prepared to share seating charts for potential contact tracing. My students have been so good about mask-wearing so far and following the classroom protocols for hand sanitizing,” Boswell said.

Jefferson added new faculty to accommodate the new IBET.

“Ever since I’ve been here, we’ve had six IBETs. Now, with seven IBETs, we made sure that we had additional staffing added for biology, English, [and Design and] Tech,” principal Dr. Ann Bonitatibus said.

The change in number of IBETS allowed class sizes to remain at an appropriate size.

“I remember one of my classes had 32 or 33 kids in middle school, and I didn’t like it because I wasn’t able to participate. So, I feel like smaller classes are better for participation and learning the content,” freshman Abhi Badia said.

Since their classes are more spread out in the Jefferson building, some students use transition periods to give their minds a break and burn a few calories through a longer walk.

“I gotta walk some distance to English and then I come right back to the commons for Design and Tech. It’s just better for me because I am a very active person,” Badia said.

However, some students have found the longer walks to be uncomfortable and tiresome.

“I have to go upstairs and downstairs for my classes, so it’s kind of hard to move around when I have to carry my things up and down, then up and down,” freshman Aarushi Bommidi said. 

The administration required an additional IBET to adjust scheduling.

“It’s not as easy to make all the pieces [of the scheduling process] fit with more students, so this year we tried this different configuration of a 7th IBET,” Bonitatibus said.

Some things have remained the same with IBET continuing to welcome freshmen and create new relationships.

 “IBET is like a nice little family, and by the end of the year, I bet [we’ll] know every single person,” Bommidi said.