Schedule Changes for the 2018-2019 School Year

Maddie Stas , Staff Member

For the past year, Mr. Mains and other faculty members have been visiting other school districts and undergoing research to find the perfect schedule plan that gives students opportunities to fit classes in their schedule that interests them, while emphasizing important Keystone tested subjects.

Teachers and administrators, including Mr. Mains, visited local schools including Greensburg Salem and Kiski Area, as well as Eastern PA districts including Souderton, Downingtown STEM Academy, Avon Grove, and Lower Merion to investigate and get feedback on different scheduling at each school.

Greensburg Salem and Kiski Area run on block scheduling, which gives students less classes a day but longer periods. Mr. Mains explained that, “We believe that 90 minutes is just too long for students to be sitting in any classroom or subject when looking at their attention spans. For us, the 50-60 minute class time range is ideal.  After talking to students (at the visited schools), they too felt they needed some variety in their day and wanted more than just four subjects to focus on. We then found the best student feedback from a school around the Philly area, Lower Merion. This is the school we ended up basing our changes off of.”

The proper term for Greater Latrobe High School’s scheduling is a “rotating drop two schedule”. Currently, when students meet with a counselor in either February or March to prepare for the next school year, each will schedule eight classes. This aspect of scheduling is not changing. Each student will still schedule eight separate classes to take, but what is changing is not having those classes every single day in the same order.

Right now, each class is 42 minutes long. Next year, classes will be 55 minutes long. This 13 minute difference is able to occur because instead of having all 8 classes every day, each student will only have 6 classes per day. The classes cycle every four days. So every day two classes are dropped and rotated, one in the AM and one in the PM. Which classes are dropped and how often the class meets is dependent on what class it is. Normal classes, such as English or History, meet 3 out of the 4 days in the cycle. Lab science classes and Keystone tested subjects have two options. Either they meet 4 out of the 4 days in the cycle, or they meet 3 out of the 4 days but one of the days is a blocked period, meaning they meet for double the time or 110 minutes instead of 55 minutes.

The concept of a “rotating schedule” is beneficial for many reasons, one of them benefiting Latrobe’s athletes. “My favorite part of the new schedule is the fact that student athletes won’t be missing the same period constantly. I know from experience, playing both volleyball and lacrosse, it is hard always missing math or chemistry. Now that the periods and subjects constantly rotate in the afternoon, I will no longer have to worry about getting behind in a specific class,” explained Ainsley Novotny.

Another adjustment to the current schedule is the outlook on study halls. Study halls are not going to be encouraged, since there is opportunity to do work during the lunch period. The term for a study hall is going to change from “study hall” to a “free period”. If a freshman or sophomore ends up with one, they will be assigned a designated room to work in. If a junior or senior takes a free period, they can go to any room in the building they feel is necessary to complete specific work.  

The reason it is called a “rotating” schedule is because the schedule literally rotates. Students will have 1 set of classes in the morning that rotate, and another set in the afternoon that rotates. For example, on day 1 you would start with the first set of classes in the morning and in the afternoon.

Another major change that is occuring next year is the idea of “Lunch and Learn”. Right in the middle of the day, from 10:35-11:40, no classes will be held anywhere in the high school. During this hour all students and faculty will eat. There will no longer be different lunches for students, all students will eat during the same time. Because everyone is eating at once, students are permitted to eat anywhere in the school building. This does not give students permission to leave the school to go out and get lunch, but they are given multiple options on how they can spend this hour. Gyms, weight rooms, the track and tennis courts will be available for use. The library will also be open for anyone trying to catch up on homework independently.

When visiting Lower Merion High school, Mrs. Pompelia was impressed on how the students spent there time during the lunch and learn hour. “We got to see the Kobe Bryant gym, and cheerleaders were practicing in there. There were some students getting remediation, and another targeted group of students getting help. Some kids, you could tell they did not want any of that, and were just sitting there listening to music. This eliminates having the pressure of having a table you need to sit at with the right people, you can create your own environment,” said Mrs. Pompelia.

This unstructured hour will not just be given out as a privilege. Students have to earn their right to go wherever they want in the school. Because of this, there are three classifications giving discretion to the opportunities students are allowed to have based on their behavior. The “supervised status” is where a student is assigned to a designated area for 30 minutes with teacher intervention and instruction. “Monitored status” is where the student is allowed to choose where they are going as long it is in an academic setting. “Wildcat status” is for a student that is in good academic standings giving them the right to choose and to be unsupervised.

In addition to everyone eating lunch at once, all faculty are will be available for students needs which is considered “Learn” time. Half of the staff will be available for students during the first 35 minutes, and the other half of the staff will be available to help students during the second 35 minutes. This will force students to manage their time and plan out when to eat their lunch to get necessary help.

Mr. Mains explained that, “Letting students have an hour designated for both lunch and tutoring, is in the grand scheme of things preparing them for college. In college, you do not have classes every single day. Most of the time, you will have them either Monday-Wednesday-Friday or Tuesday-Thursday. So oftentimes it is hard for graduates to adjust and learn how to manage their time. Putting students in the Lunch and Learn setting will cause them to learn time management skills”

 

Problems with the current schedule

  • 42 minutes is not enough time to “dive deep” into a topic
  • Lunches are blocked from certain periods
  • Every other day classes only held periods 2 and 10
  • EWCTC students have limited time to see teachers outside of class
  • Students have to focus on 8 classes per day

 

Old Schedule New Schedule
42 minute period 55 minute sets
8 classes a day 6 classes a day
Seminar Time No Seminar
AB days ABCD days
Study Halls Free periods
A, B, C Lunch Lunch and Learn

 

VOICE BOX

Next school year, for one hour a day no classes will be going on the high school. This time is meant for students to each lunch while being able to get help from teachers, being nicknamed “Lunch and Learn.”  What are your thoughts on this? Do you like the new procedure? Why or why not?

 

“I like it because it gives the students who don’t get a study hall, they now have one in a way, but a lot of students don’t like it. The only issue I see is all the students trying to see a teacher at once or it being used irresponsibly.” -Taylor Hochard, Sophomore

 

“I dislike it. No, I do not like change. A lot of students dislike this!” -Taylor Harden, Junior

 

“I think it will be good to have a lunch and a study hall with all of my friends.” -Ralph, Sophomore

 

“My thoughts on Lunch and Learn is that I think it is a great idea because on Tuesday and Thursday for tutoring in the morning some kids can’t make it to school that early due to parents leaving early, bus coming late, or not being able to drive.” -Robert Lauffer, Sophomore

 

“I believe I will like the new procedure next year because it gives us more time to eat and get stuff done.” –Katelin Templeton, Sophomore

 

“I like this idea because it will give us the opportunity to have a break in the day. In the long run, I think that more students will get more work done because of the extra time.” -Skylar Shank, Sophomore

 

“I like it because it will be nice to have more freedom and all of my friends will have the same lunch.” -Landry Quinn, Junior

“I think it is okay at least we get a longer lunch.” -Jennifer Depree, Sophomore