School districts around have begun to change their start times due to interest in studies about students’ sleep needs and how sleep corresponds with high academic performance. Camas High School has recently hopped aboard the train and pushed the school schedule back an hour. However, for a while now, the new schedule has been controversial.
“Two years ago, Dr. Snell and a committee started looking at research about school start times and they did a number of staff, family, and student surveys… and made the decision during last school year in the spring to adjust the school day this year,” stated Dr. Sejkora, the second-year Camas High School principal.
Now, the community wants to know if the new schedule has been helping or hindering the students and staff of Camas High School. “I really enjoy the new schedule; it gives me more time to sleep in”, responds CHS math teacher Mrs. Cooke. “This new schedule affects my teaching because I am more awake and alert to perform at a higher level”.
The new ‘Maker Time’ that has been built into the school day has also raised some confusion: some students do not like that it is required to stay through it. Many students believe that it was administration’s choice to extend the school day by an extra ten minutes, when in actuality the extra time was mandatory by law and simply put to good use.
“The school day would end at 3:20 whether or not we had Maker Time” claims Dr. Sekjora. “Maker Time [is] our hope to… [move] our day back to build some time into the schedule so that students could do what they needed to do,” she continued.
Instead of keeping what was known last year as “Conference Period” after school, the administration decided to build it into the school day so that students can’t leave until the end of it. This prevents the students from having to make the decision of going home and not getting the help that they probably should, or staying to get help and see a teacher.
Many students also wonder why each class got two minutes shorter than last year. The truth is, administration wanted each class to be the same length. In previous years, second period was longer to accommodate for announcements. This extra time is no longer necessary, since announcements are no longer made verbally every day. Since we added Maker Time, they had to adjust the time that each class ended to ensure that you received an equal time frame for learning.
Although teachers seem to be in favor of the new schedule, students have not expressed that they feel the same way. A vast majority of students agree with Caleb Myott, CHS senior, who points out that “sports end later, which is difficult, and there’s less time between when school ends and sports start”. Approximately 66% of students polled on Instagram have found that, due to sports and activities running later than last year, they are simply staying up later in order to do homework.
Because sports and activities run later, Junior Lexi Holmes points out that “the later start time only pushes back my homework and clubs, so I go to bed later and get up later. [There is] no real improvement”.
Another popular opinion is that the new bell schedule is confusing, since classes no longer end on even multiples of five. A majority of students polled, in fact, agree that they would rather have classes end at even times than have Maker Time if given that option.
Another potential solution that a large majority of students polled are interested in is having a seventh period every day. With the new 24 credit requirement, unless a student takes zero period, there are no extra class spaces for students to truly explore their interests. Having an extra class every day would give students the opportunity to take classes they are interested in exploring without sacrificing the classes they need.
Despite negative feelings towards ‘Maker Time’ and the new schedule, most students are unaware of why it is required that students have this added mandatory seat time. The truth is, Camas HS has not been meeting the state required hours for the amount of time high school students must have in the classroom. The reason the district has gotten away with a lack of time for high school students is that the elementary school students have been going to school for far too much time, and the state only takes an average of the total hours gotten by all the schools in the district.
Because conference period had been such a useful resource for students over the years, the district decided that in order to meet the mandatory hours, it was most beneficial based on past experiences to simply turn conference period into a mandatory part of the day. As Senior Haley Peterson puts it, “if Maker Time is taken away, we still have to be in school until 3:20”.
Overall, unless the start time moved back to being earlier in the morning, school could not end any earlier even if Maker Time was removed. Over the next few years of minor adjustments, however, it can be expected that the new schedule will slowly become more popularly accepted and, if Camas High School follows statistical trends, student success should increase.