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Schedule Being Ironed Out

March 19, 2012

ST. MARYS — With a local school switching its scheduling system, administrators are taking steps to implement the change for the 2012-13 school year.

St. Marys Memorial High School will be on the trimester system next school year, and school administrators are currently working on the scheduling aspect of the new system.

“We will have five academic periods, which are 63-minutes long,” Memorial High School Principal Dave Lewis said. “We will still have a four-minute passing time.”

He noted students will not be given a study hall period, but they will continue to have a Rider Time period.

“There are many reasons why — we think Rider Time will become more important with not having study halls,” Lewis said. “It will allow us to do a lot of the things we currently do with Rider Time, like club meetings, announcements, department meetings.”

Students will go through three periods and then one group will be in lunch and another group will be in Rider Time, then both groups will be in Common Rider Time. After Common Rider Time, the group that was in lunch will be in Rider Time and the group in Rider Time will be in lunch.

“They will have a total of 56 minutes of Rider Time,” Lewis said. “We felt it would benefit them by continuing to be able to see their teachers, do their club meetings.”

He noted the high school and middle school shares teachers — and the suggested schedule will enable more flexibility between schools, as they both will be on trimesters.

“This will free up the teachers we share with the middle school during that time,” Lewis said. “It made sense as we worked through it.”

Next year’s Rider Time will also hold some new changes.

“During Rider Time next year we are implementing a couple things, one is the OGT intervention program,” Lewis said, noting the OGT test the sophomores took this week.

“During OGT week, the freshmen take the practice test. For those who don’t score well, we’ll put them in the OGT intervention program.”

Another Rider Time program will be the homework completion program.

“Some of the kids aren’t doing well because they aren’t doing their homework,” Lewis said. “We will assign kids who repeatedly don’t complete their homework in that.”

The last period of the school day will be four minutes longer than the rest of the periods.

“We always do that in case we need to have announcements for something,” Lewis said. “They’ll also have an extra three or four minutes to get to their lockers, their cars. Hopefully that will get people out of the parking lot, so it should reduce traffic congestion as well.”

As for student schedules, the students will have their required courses, as well as room for some electives. Band and choir will be three trimesters long.

“For freshmen and sophomores, they will have band the same period as concert choir if the kids are in both band and concert choir,” Lewis noted. “That will be split between Mrs. Taylor and Mr. Newlove.”

If the freshmen or sophomore students are not in band or choir, they will have seven slots available for their elective courses.

For junior and senior students, band and symphonic choir will be three trimesters long and in their own class periods. Junior and senior students not in band or symphonic choir will have nine available slots for electives for the year. For Tri Star students, the juniors will be gone the first three periods of the day.

“If they’re at the Dennings building, we’ll try to get them back in time for band,” Lewis said. “For the seniors, they will be gone for the afternoon periods — four and five — so they will have no problem with the three periods of band or choir.”

He noted school officials will take situations “as they come up and try to address them.”

Lewis said the switch to trimesters will not take away any courses.

“By going to trimesters, it will allow the kids to take the same amount of electives — we are not taking any course offerings away,” he said, noting the trimesters will be 12 weeks long, compared to the current semesters that are 18 weeks long. “The kids are able to get more offerings than the average student, they will get more electives.”

Lewis noted there will be increased electives in English and in social studies.

“They will be six-week classes, so students will have to take two each trimester if they want to take them,” he said. “I think we’ll have a good response to it.”

Teachers, Lewis said, will undergo professional development to help with instructional strategies for the longer course periods.

Students will start scheduling in the coming weeks — guidance counselors will be going around to English classes to discuss the changes with students.

“We always have an eighth-grade parent meeting to explain the process,” Lewis said. “This year, we’ll be opening it up to all the parents because we know there are going to be questions.”

The parent meeting will be at 7 p.m. March 27 in the auditorium at the high school-middle school.

“Once we have all the course requests, we will have department meetings — we will discuss how may sections we need of classes, if classes won’t go because there’s not enough students who sign up,” Lewis said. “Until we know the numbers of kids interested in certain classes, it’s hard.”

The normal scheduling process usually starts in February.

“It’s been pushed back this year,” Lewis said. “It will definitely be new for us. It will be a change, but everybody will adjust.”

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