New Year, New Schedule (Take Two)

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Hailey Church and Allison Slovak

With the start of a new school year, Warren Hills Regional School District’s students and staff came back to yet another new schedule.

The new Rotation Schedule separates classes into 40-minute sections and  students attend all eight of their classes every day in different rotations, depending on the “day:” one, two, three, or four. Three separate lunches occur between  10:51 a.m. to 12:59 p.m. during periods five, six, and seven. 

The Warren Hills Regional Board of Education changed from the Transition Schedule of the previous year that had students still seeing eight classes in the same order everyday.  The Transition Schedule also had three different lunches, but these started earlier and were shorter than the current ones. 

Principal Christopher Kavcak explained that the previous schedule did have conflicts within it, and issues that directly impacted students’ performance in school. 

“There were specific areas of concern, one of which was the times of lunches which overlapped with science labs, and those labs would then interfere with Health and Physical Education classes which would lead to the lab students missing a lot of their classes,” Kavcak said. “The last thing was that we had a high number of students that had attendance issues in their first or second period classes because they met at the same time everyday, so if they were late, it would impact those classes the most.” 

In a voluntary poll created by The Streak and made available to select classes, as well as the high school’s teaching staff,  the new schedule got mixed reviews.

“One thing I do like is that lunches are longer, so I am able to see my teachers during that time and not having to sacrifice my lunch to get help with work,” said junior Faith Oranye.

“I think the rotation was a very good idea, [but] only if classes rotated out,” said junior Max Lauton. “The whole reason kids wanted a rotating schedule was so that they didn’t have eight classes worth of homework.”

“It was confusing at first, but school feels less monotone than last year since stuff changes every day,” said sophomore Brady Witt.

Sophomore Kamryn Barker said, “Although the new rotation schedule does allow for more of a variety, I liked the old schedule from last year because I was able to adjust to a certain routine.”

Some students even preferred the  block-drop schedule from over three years ago.

“[We should] go back to my freshman year schedule,” said senior Gabby Fama. “It worked so well and we had it for years. I miss it a lot. School will never be the same as it was then.”

Senior Lana Clesca agreed.

 “I preferred the schedule my freshman year,” she said. “I think we should have one lunch, 55-minute blocks, and a drop block schedule.”

Teachers, too, weighed in with differing thoughts.

“[It’s] not beneficial in terms of time,” said English teacher Penny Giamoni.

Computer Science teacher Daryl Detrick said his main concern is how the schedule affects clubs.

 “It is much harder to plan for clubs now,” he said. “I really wish we had a common lunch for clubs to meet. I believe that the number of students we had active in our clubs has been a strength of our school for the past 20 years, but I am afraid the number of students involved is going to decline.”

Physical Education teacher Laurie Kerr also voiced drawbacks. 

“Teachers cannot get set up when standing in the hallways for bell ringers. Physical Education classes are getting maybe 20 minutes of quality time outside,” she said. “This schedule is more about quantity than quality. Many teachers walk out of here mentally drained from rushing around all day.”

Physical Education teacher Joe Besser sees pros and cons. 

While I do like seeing all of my students daily, the 40 min periods seem a bit short for teaching a complete lesson in health and on the ropes course,” he said. “It will take a semester or two in order to evaluate any academic benefits.”

Kavcak acknowledged that there could yet be revisions if need be, but the schedule so far has had positive effects.

“I’m never one to be set in stone and say, ‘we’re going to do it like this and that’s it.’ If there are glaring issues, then we can revise it,” he said. “In addition, there could be changes down the road if there is legislation in the state of New Jersey that would push back the start time of high school. When I look at the progress that students are making and the percentage of students that are passing their classes, I think we made a really strong comeback.”