As students get back into their school routines, at least one aspect of the day is sure to be different than last year, as class times have been adjusted to add a total of 15 minutes to each day. Starting school 5 minutes earlier at 7:55 and finishing 5 minutes later, at 3:15 made up for this. The rest of the added time came from student lunch period, reducing it to 25 minutes.
Period timing is now somewhat changed from last year, but not by more than 3 minutes per class (which is about the time between classes anyway), so it is unlikely that there will be far reaching consequences. Students seem to prefer losing 5 minutes at lunch rather than the alternative of taking away holiday-time to make up for the deficit.
However, what was the reasoning for the schedule changes?
In order to get a credit for a class, 60 hours must be spent in it per semester. These are the rules that national public schools, including SHS, go by. However, Forrest Bird goes by trimesters, meaning that the third trimester project’s extra hours and half-credit isn’t part of state requirements.
The necessity of a half-credit is debatable in on itself—on one hand, it provides a “safety net” that can add up to an additional 2 credits per subject should a student spend 4 years in Forrest Bird. There also is merit in having a school-wide project that promotes creativity and individual thinking, as seen recently in the service-learning project last year. Then again, this is all extra time not mandated by the state, and won’t be required for graduation.
This leads to the argument between keeping trimesters as they are or switching to a semester based schedule. Learning in semesters would keep Forrest Bird more in line with NIC and SHS, and would limit disruption that happens to the middle school during third trimester. However, though the middle school doesn’t do a project, 8th graders make up the time with a week-long trip to Yellowstone, and other grades have field trips as well.
Third trimester can either be seen as an integral part of the Forrest Bird identity, or as an unnecessary drain on student time for a token half-credit. This question is essentially the basis of the trimester-semester debate, and will be the basis of any decision to keep or do away with our new schedule.
All Photos by Isaac Solly