Central High School has made the decision to switch from a block schedule to a 7-period schedule for the 20232-2024 school year. Students have their fair share of opinions on the subject, and Pine Needle Writers Raylee and Mariah got the inside scoop on why the change is happening and what the students of Central have to say about it.
By Raylee Jones and Mariah Peterson
As of next year, Central High School will be changing their block schedule to a traditional 7-period schedule. This is a big change for some students and teachers who have had block scheduling for years. While most students dislike the idea of the new schedule, administrators are optimistic.
In a Pine Needle survey, we asked incoming sophomores, juniors and seniors their thoughts on this. In it, 90% of the students stated that they like the current block scheduling. In addition, 73% of the students voted that they’re not excited for the new 7-period schedule.
With the beginning of the new schedule, school will begin at 8:25am with the exception of the ‘zero hour’ class going from 7:30am-8:20am. Each class will be 50 minutes long with lunch before or after the fourth class of the day. The day will conclude after the seventh class of the day at 3:20pm.
The shorter time in class is concerning to students for a few different reasons. They may not have time to accomplish everything in one class as they do now, not be able to keep up with all of their classes every day, or not have a sufficient amount of time to make their open periods useful.
Another big concern is having too much homework and burning out. With less time and more frequency, it could allow for less to be accomplished and more to do outside of class. This could, in turn, lead to the lives of students outside of school suffering.
Lunches will also be impacted and are a concern of the students. While the lunch periods are still the same length, there are only two lunch periods for the whole school which can make it hard to get everyone fed in the 30 minutes lunch lasts.
Riley, a sophomore at Central High School, would argue that it would work great for some classes but not so much for others. He explained that activities like choir can change the class up every day, but with classes like history and math, you do the same thing every day which is boring and exhausting for many students.
One thing many students are looking forward to with the shorter classes is creating less time to waste every day. This could also make it easier for some students to pay attention to the whole class.
The decision to innovate back to the traditional schedule was not an easy one. “We had done a ton of research and met with each department to lay out our thinking,” said Randall Seales, the current Principal of Central High School.
One position was that enrollment was down a great deal as there are only 1,700 students enrolled at Central while there have been upwards of 2,300 in the past. Dropout rates have risen and the value of education is not being recognized by families.
Along with that, homeschooling rates have also gone up significantly. Seales observed that there are currently 1,800 students and growing in Rapid City. This growth is causing the district around $8 million in lost revenue.
Another stand of concern for Seales is finding people to do the jobs. At the beginning of this school year there were three open jobs that were not filled. This leads to many students having 90 minutes of open time to create bad habits.
“Finding qualified teachers for all of the unfilled positions is getting harder and harder,” stated Seales. “There are less applicants for every opening and often no candidates.” This speaks on how the teacher shortage is impacting schools.
With the schedule, every student will see every teacher every day. This is believed to positively increase educational impact for the students. There will be less time lost than in the long, 90-minute periods.
Many student athletes know and understand the struggle of missing a lot of work due to sports activities. “Extended absences get very hard to keep up with academics,” says Seales. “Ask any wrestler or basketball player how often they were absent to the grinding winter sports schedule.”
It is not only the students missing school, it is the coaches who have to miss also, and those coaches are teachers. With the new schedule, administrators see an opportunity to get caught up much faster.
“The biggest reason though, is building the teacher/student relationship!” states Seales. “When the student knows their teacher and the teacher knows their student, communication is improved and obstacles can be addressed sooner. That will translate to higher levels of learning; the reason we are all here.”
Photo by Central Student Madison Malone