Switch to trimesters

Switch to trimesters

Mya Aleksak, Reporter

Many WHS students are familiar with a trimester-based schedule from CLMS. But once students move to high school, it shifts to semesters. Recently, discussions have arisen about whether or not the high school should join the middle school and keep the schedule consistent throughout the schools. 

First suggested by a committee dedicated to researching the best schedule format, the administration thinks that this switch will have numerous benefits. Mr. Hauser and Mr. Samuelson explained that there are three main reasons driving the shift. First, this schedule will give students more chances to take elective classes, making school more enjoyable. Second, administrators recognize that there could be more chances for students to get help when they need it. Lastly, transitioning would make it easier for students to meet the new graduation requirements. 

They are aware that the transition may not be perfect and anticipate some possible drawbacks,  such as a longer gap in between classes. For example, if you take the first part of math during the first trimester, and the second part during the third trimester, there is a long gap which could affect students’ learning. Another example would be taking math first and second trimester, and then having all of the third trimester and summer off, leading to a longer gap without practicing the necessary skills. There is also the challenge of fitting advisory into the day. With our current schedule, students meet with only four classes every day. During the trimester schedule, students would meet with all of their classes, leaving less time for advisories to meet. Since there would be more classes, there would be an increase in movement throughout the building, which would take some workshopping to ensure it runs smoothly. 

Not everyone is on board with the schedule change. Some students who disagree say that making the switch has more cons than the administration is taking into consideration and it isn’t worth it. WHS student Bella Geer says that “Trimesters make the school year feel so much longer. With quarters in place, it’s more broken up and there are more checkpoints, which help me stay on top of my work. With trimesters, there is a lot more work you can miss before that first checkpoint.” Another student, Kenji Desai, agrees that we should stay with our current schedule. One big concern that he and other students have is only having one night to complete homework. Between sports, school, and a social life many students already struggle to get work done with a block schedule. Switching to a design where classes meet every day would make it nearly impossible. 

Along with students, the staff aren’t all for the new plan. Mrs. Prpich, a history teacher explains that she doesn’t have most of the information to develop a full opinion. When asked how a switch would impact her class, she said she had no idea, the administration hadn’t given enough information to staff about the logistics of it. Some of her concerns include a potential staff decrease. Because there is so little information out, she worries that there may be less demand for teachers in the building. She also expressed that this new schedule builds in time for students to take study halls, but the school isn’t doing anything to see that students use their time productively. As someone who monitors a study hall, Mrs. Prpich sees students playing games and napping during this time. She thinks that just changing the schedule won’t fix the problem and other measures need to be taken. More teachers, such as Mrs. Pesko, are concerned about the potential for long gaps between classes. More class time would have to be devoted to review after a long break leaving less time for instruction. She continues by mentioning that staff “will also need professional development that addresses valuable differentiation and other successful instructional techniques in order to utilize the new shortened class time.” After becoming accustomed to 80 minute blocks, students and staff will need time to adjust to the new class length. Ultimately, staff members aren’t fully convinced that there are enough benefits to warrant a schedule switch in the school.  

The administration realizes there are doubts and concerns, as with any big change, but they have plans to try and help people become more comfortable with the switch. They believe that showing people the benefits of a trimester schedule will help them see why changing what WHS has been doing is a good choice. 

If the plan goes through, the administration intends to put it into effect for the 2023-2024 school year. Their goal is to spend the rest of this semester talking with staff and working on initial logistics. Next semester, they will continue to spread information to the staff, students, parents, and the rest of the school community.