Could The Schedule During Finals Week Become The Permanent Schedule?

Yoshimi Lin and Marissa Douglas

During the week of January 28th- January 31st, Sehome and Bellingham High School implemented a new schedule for finals approaching the end of the semester. In comparison to the regular high school schedule, this new one excluded time for anchor, but did allow longer breaks between class periods. Additionally, there was also an hour long lunch. This has lead to an uprising of opinions.

After interviewing students of all grades at Sehome, many seemed to favor having this new change. Koen Larsen (10) really liked how the new schedule placed everyone in the same lunch. “It was a lot more relaxed because you got an hour long lunch,” Larsen said. He also added, “If the lunch room is a bit crowded, you can go somewhere else.” Larsen also liked the 15 minute breaks between classes because it allowed the freedom to meet with teachers, do homework, or socialize.

Some students did not love everything about the schedule change. Jonah Herring (11) thought that the change was overall good, but thought that not having anchor as a designated time to study could negatively impact students. “I think it (anchor) is a good time if you’re responsible to get work done. I don’t always do that but during finals it would be a good time for people to study.” Many interviewees felt that the breaks weren’t quite as productive as anchor but it also gave them the time to use the restroom, get last minute help from teachers, and cross Sehome’s lengthy building.

Following the week of finals, Mike Couto (admin) sent out a survey for students, classroom teachers, and staff to fill out regarding the finals schedule. The questions asked interviewees whether they liked and disliked the new schedule and what aspects supported or rejected their answer.

These charts show the results to a part of survey that was sent out to all Sehome students and staff. It shows that students’ favorite aspect of the schedule was the longer lunch and their least favorite part was no anchor (discounting other because we did not receive specifications on what people submitted for other).

Of the 384 people that were interviewed the highest votes for what people liked was having a longer lunch (328) but the majority of what people disliked was having no anchor (162 votes) and other reasons (165 votes). (The other reasons were later specified by the interviewees but we were unable to retrieve the data to publish).

“It’s one less class and place to be for students and faculty on an already full plate of eight classes. I think people felt more at ease,” Todd Leita said.

Additionally, Todd Leita (staff) is leading a movement in which students sign a paper which states that they wish for the schedule to changed next year. Currently, Leita has at least 300 – 400 signatures from students and staff of Sehome. He claimed even Sonia Bell, the principal of Sehome, is a proponent of the finals schedule. He has distributed copies of blank sheets to the rest of the math teachers. If you are interested in signing on to the movement, please see a teacher in Sehome’s math department. Leita plans to gather plenty more signatures and welcomes students who are interested in contributing to his movement.

Leita provided many insights on why he believed this schedule is better than the current schedule.
Leita pointed out how helpful he felt the 15 minute breaks were. Leita said, “Students typically need help or have questions right after class, and this allowed for questions for both the students and for the teachers to have that time (to respond). “Leita also has a solution to the no anchor problem. He said “Teachers would need to be available during say 25 minutes of lunch, which would be the quote unquote ‘anchor time'”. Leita has given much thought to the pros and cons of a schedule change and hopes to be able to convince the other schools and the school board to join him in his movement towards a new schedule.

In order for this schedule change to occur, all three high schools in the Bellingham School District must agree to implement it due to the district’s One Schoolhouse Approach. Leita pointed out that logistically, all schools should not have to switch because the first and last periods are identical. However, Leita also pointed out that all schools having one lunch and the longer breaks between classes clears up many of the complications that some students run into when they want to take classes at different high schools. Right now, every school has two lunch periods and it’s possible for a student’s lunch at one school to not align with a class at another. Students may solve this by compromising and either having a free period, taking a class they may not be interested in, or enrolling in an alternative option like an online course.

Right now, nothing is definite, but with so many people having felt the finals schedule was better than the current schedule, a change may come. Bellingham School District’s schedule has actually changed a few times since the district changed to an eight class schedule, so it’s not unreasonable to prepare for another. Whether you’re a proponent or opponent of this possible change, your opinion counts. Speak up if you feel strongly about this because it’s your day that’s being affected. Those who decide if the schedule changes should have the staff and students best interest at heart, so make sure they know what you want. If you have any questions on how to contribute to this change, it’s recommended you consult the schools administration or Leita.