Frosh Fundamentals: Where should you go during frees? It depends on your interests.

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Students playing ping pong and pool in Bergen County Academies’ lower cafeteria

For many BCA students, a prevalent topic is deciding which areas in school are the best to relax, socialize, do work, or have fun. The question that remains, however, is which of these locations is best – between the cafeterias, hallways, and information commons. Each having their pros and cons, it is up to individual students to figure out which area of BCA is idea  for them.

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The lower cafeteria (“Lower Caf”) is close to the Commons and not far from the main entrance and main office. Depending on what time of day it is, it may be difficult to find seating, but usually there is a table or two open. Unless you’re looking for a quick snack or drink, this certainly is not the main area for school lunch, but the few vending machines, as well as BCA Mart which is open after the last lunch mods, can definitely satisfy midday cravings.

The Information Commons is also the perfect place to go if you do not have a laptop, as there are desktop computers available for students. 

The Lower Caf is famous for its ping pong and pool tables, so if students are looking to socialize or enjoy themselves during their free mods, it is a popular place to go. Students should just be clever about when to visit the cafeteria so that there’s room to sit or a spot to play ping-pong, because it can be hectic when it is packed.

However, with regards to getting work done, the lower cafeteria is definitely not the ideal choice. Again, this is a social area and it can be hard to concentrate, but many students still enjoy it. ABF freshman Sylvie Adams considers it to be her favorite place for frees. “There are nice tables where you can hang out with friends,” she explained.

Unlike the Lower Caf, the upper cafeteria (“Upper Caf”) is much bigger and has a larger amount of seating available. This is where Chartwells school lunch is sold and therefore is where most students eat lunch. However, it does resemble the Lower Caf in how its occupancy varies throughout the day.

During lunch mods, it may be packed with almost nowhere to sit, making lunch mods the best time to eat and socialize but not a good time to do work. However, there are also times when there could be little to no people, in which case it’s the perfect spot to do work in a large, open area with plenty of natural light.

While the Upper Caf and Lower Caf are options, they are not the only places around BCA for students to make effective use of. The Information Commons is another great choice: it is close to the main office and entrance, so it’s a good place for students to go if they are just entering or about to leave the school. This is also the perfect place if you do not have a laptop, as there are desktop computers available for students. If you are really looking to get as much work done as possible, this is where to go. Once you enter and sign in, you must be doing work and you must be doing it silently. These rules have been and will continue to be strictly enforced, so many students agree that it is not a place to socialize, but more of a place to do work, especially since talking is not permitted.

Some students don’t mind the rules, though. “It’s like usual libraries,” ATCS freshman Alec Bodnar said. “I don’t think it’s unfair.” Food and drink are also not permitted in the Commons, but if you find it hard to concentrate in noisy, hectic areas, this is a comfortable place to do work efficiently with minimal distractions.

Still, the school hallways remain the most diverse place to spend frees at BCA. Only recently did they become available to freshmen, after being off limits for the first half of the school year due to the possibility of disturbing classes. Many feel this idea of “hallway privileges” is unjust. “It shouldn’t be based on grades,” freshman Sylvie Adams said. She thinks what grade you’re in shouldn’t have anything to do with hallway privileges. However, Adams added an exception, explaining, “…if someone is being loud or disturbing teachers, then maybe that individual’s privileges should be taken away.”

Students who are allowed to use the hallways find it comfortable and relaxing, and they can be anywhere in the school without being too far from classes if they plan their spots strategically. There is a “two-square” rule, meaning that if students sit in the hallways, they must be next to the wall and should not take up more than two tiles. This leaves room for other students and provides safety so that others are able to get by more quickly without tripping. You can sit with whomever you want, or sit alone if you prefer to focus on work. Once hallway privileges are granted, you have a lot of freedom and flexibility with numerous possibilities.

Many love the great seating and working areas in BCA, while others may feel restricted. Being a student here, if you want to get work done, or make the most out of your social life, the various areas that you choose during free periods can have a bigger impact on your four years here than you first realize.

Let us know what you think. What places at BCA did we miss? What is your favorite spot to spend your frees?