Bell Schedule Changes Viewed Through Eyes of Students

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Michael del Rosario

Students make their way through the halls at a crucial choke point between the main entrance and the stairs to the library.

Delaney Appelhans, Centerspread Editor

MHS has gained statewide attention for various reasons. For example, it has a competitive baseball team or an award-winning show choir program. It also has a unique schedule called block or the 4×4, but within the next year, one of these aspects will be a thing of the past.

As of Sept. 28, the school board members approved the transition from the block to a more traditional 8-period schedule.

Block scheduling has been in place at MHS since 1996, but after almost two years of studying the possible change and a 5-1 school board vote, the 8-period schedule will be implemented in the 2017-2018 school year.

A Sept. 29 press release published on the school’s homepage stated, “MHS leadership is enthusiastic about moving to a traditional 8-period schedule and will join 17 other Lake County high schools with that schedule. The new schedule will include eight up to 54-minute periods, including lunch, which will be one of those periods.”

The reaction to the change varied with some students seeing the positive but with many more feeling as though student opinion hadn’t been heard.

“I wish I had more say, and I wish that students had a chance to vote for what we want because we, the students, are a community,” said Junior Angel Pacheco.

This is something Student Leadership is hoping to work on implementing in the future in order to make sure student opinions are expressed within large decisions like the bell schedule change.

“We are creating a student advisory board that will allow students to work alongside the school board and have a say on things that are going on in our school,” said School Wide President Adriana Feijoo, senior.

One protest against the 8-period schedule is that students will no longer be able to “double-up” courses, such as math, science and foreign languages.  This option, for example, might allow students to take multiple math courses in one year. Under the block, they could take one math course first semester and a higher-level course the second semester. Some students interested in pursuing math in college and want as many higher-level courses as possible feel this is holding them back.

“Because I doubled up, I was able to get five science credits in before I graduated,” stated Tristan Louria, senior. “I don’t think I would have been as successful in my classes with this new schedule in place.”

Another argument stems from AP students who claim that they will not be able to handle as many AP courses in one year with the homework load being too much each night.

“This year, I was able to double up on my AP classes, so I could take more, and I can’t do that next year,” explained Jessica Kafka, junior. “I feel like I don’t have as many opportunities because I can’t spread out my work load to a manageable level.”

On the other hand, some students think the new schedule will actually benefit their AP scores because they will be learning and reviewing the course throughout the entire school year instead of a student having an AP course from August until December and then not hearing about that subject again until he or she begins reviewing around April on the block schedule.

“I think it’s a lot better to have an AP course over an entire year rather than just a semester,” said Jisel Gomez, senior. “It gives you more time to process the information since you’re not pressed for time, and you can space out your learning better.”

The year-long aspect is becoming a positive many students see for several types of classes, not just AP.  Students will be less likely to forget basic course information from one level to the next.

For example, students potentially could take Algebra 1 first semester freshman year on the block schedule but not have geometry until second semester of their sophomore year.  Under this schedule, students would have an entire year without exposure to math skills and equations.

“I feel like it will be beneficial [to have the new schedule] because we will have classes like Spanish and math all year round, so we won’t lose the skills we have in the class,” explained Becca Panos, freshman.

This concept can be applied to any course in which general knowledge from the previous course is expected to be retained and applied in the next course.

Despite the varying opinions on the benefits and drawbacks to the switch, the school’s staff and administration are working to make the transition to the 8-period schedule as smooth as possible for the students and the community.

Dr. Kevin Meyers, superintendent, explained in a school press release, “We must be focused on providing the best possible education for all of our students and, after looking at our research, we were painfully aware that we are not currently doing that. We must prepare our students for a successful future.”