Summit High changes class schedule |

Summit High changes class schedule

FARMER’S KORNER – Some high school students don’t know it yet, but their school schedule is changing next year.

Last week, the Summit School District school board said it supported a recommendation the high school return to the 90-minute block schedule it used several years ago. For more than 10 years, high school students followed a rotating schedule in which they attended four 90-minute classes a day on alternating days. They attended four of their eight classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday one week and Tuesday and Thursday the following week. The differing days were color-coded green and white days.

Two years ago, school officials updated the schedule so students would attend all classes three times a week, said Summit High Principal Frank Mencin. With this schedule, the students followed the four class, 90-minute schedule Monday through Thursday, but attended all eight classes – in 42 minute periods – on Friday.

But a recent survey of high school teachers and some students indicated that most found the Friday classes too short to accomplish much.

“It was an experiment we tried and it didn’t come out the way we wanted,” Mencin said.

Beginning in the autumn, students will return to the original rotating 90-minute schedule, which administrators believe will increase the students’ potential for learning.

“I think it’ll be better,” said high school freshman Danielle LaFrance of next year’s schedule. “I hate eight-period days – they’re too long and you don’t get anything done.”

“No one likes Fridays,” agreed Carrie George, also in ninth grade. “You can’t get anything done because you don’t have enough time and it’s just too confusing for everybody.”

High school freshmen Evan Moore and Stephan Collard hadn’t heard of the planned schedule change but they seemed pleased with the prospect of having only four classes a day.

“I like it because it gives you more time to work on things,” Collard said. “You don’t have to get all (eight) classes’ (homework) done on Thursday night.”

“You learn more in 90-minute classes,” Moore said.

As with anything, not everybody is happy about the change.

“I think it’s going to be confusing,” said freshman Shay Church. She’s worried it will be hard to remember each week’s schedule, she said.

“I didn’t even know they were going to change the schedule,” said Church’s friend Anya Feshchenko. “I think it’s going to be confusing.”

Most of the high school staff, however, is pleased with the change, said Millie Hamner, assistant schools superintendent. “They realize how important it is to use every possible moment to its greatest impact with students. I think there will be more support to do that.”

Ironically, the change to the system now being abandoned grew from the same concern about use of time. Superintendent Wes Smith led an effort questioning if 90-minute periods were used to the last minute. At a landmark school board meeting at Silverthorne Elementary School, parents, teachers and students protested a schedule change.

It also came out that training of teachers on how to teach 90-minute periods had fallen off over the years.

A compromise was to test out the Friday eight-period days.

The return to the green and white schedule will benefit athletes whose sport commitments sometimes conflict with classes, Hamner said. With the rotating schedule, student athletes are less likely to miss the same class continually.

Longer class periods don’t guarantee the students will learn more though, Mencin said.

“It’s not the schedule that makes the difference, it’s the teachers that deliver the schedule that makes the difference,” he said.

Realizing this, school officials are planning additional professional development – giving the teachers tools for more effective class management, instructional strategies and other methods of maximizing student learning.

“Here we want to engage and involve students in their learning process,” said Jim Hesse, Summit High School’s assistant principal.

Officials want to ensure teachers don’t spend the 90-minutes classes simply lecturing because most high school students don’t have the attention-span required for a long lecture class, Mencin said. More effective education would include a variety of lecture, discussion and hands-on activities.

“Students have different learning needs and learning styles and we need to be cognizant of that,” Mencin said.

“We’re trying to give (students) more opportunities to be successful,” Hesse said.

School officials are exploring additional changes for the high school, which wouldn’t occur before the 2004-05 school year. These include a later starting time, scheduling academic classes earlier in the day and increasing graduation requirements to ensure that seniors follow an academically challenging schedule.

Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or

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