December 20, 2014

Trimesters: Here to stay?

SSC rolls into its third section of curriculum

By John Fischer|Staff writer
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STANDISH — For the 2008-2009 school year, Standish-Sterling Central (SSC) high school decided to try a fairly new and increasingly popular schedule that breaks down the year into three portions instead of the traditional two.

And from the sound of it, as SSC rolls into its third trimester, the schedule will be permanent.

According to SSC Principal Mark Williams, things have gone well in the first year of trimesters.

“We’re (teachers, students, administrators) getting our timing down,” Williams said. “The only real trouble so far was the switch from the second to third trimester.

“It was in the middle of the week and we were doing testing for the Michigan Merit Exam, so it was kind of hectic. Next year we’ll do it on a Friday. We learned on that one.”

He added more days were scheduled into the trimester to account for snow days but more planning needs to be done to account for a smooth transition next year.

Jon McPherson, SSC high school guidance counselor, says the switch was a much-welcomed move for him.

“The school I used to be at made the switch from seven to five (classes per day) and saw real improvement,” McPherson said. “I was excited when I was told of the plan.”

Students, teachers and administrators believe the switch provides students more opportunity to complete state-required classes and the ability to be in the same class each day favors all parties.

“It’s (trimesters) good, we can get more classes of any kind,” SSC Junior Victoria Greenwood said, adding required courses are much easier to complete under trimesters. “I think it’s easier on teachers seeing the same kids every day. It gives them more time to focus.”

“Students are more focused when they can meet with their teachers each day,” McPherson said, adding when snow days or other circumstances disrupt block scheduling, students and teachers go four days sometimes without meeting, often creating a “waste day,” where instead of introducing new material, the session is dedicated to reviewing the last meeting’s material.

“In theory, you have more time with your class,” the counselor said. “There’s more opportunity to complete course requirements and stay with your graduating class.”

“Michigan requirements increased for the class of 2011 and beyond,” Williams said. “This way, you’ll have 15 classes a year instead of 14.”

According to McPherson, there are a few hindrances trimesters create.

“Some situations, a student will have to go 12 weeks without a certain course in which a student will experience a gap,” he said, adding teachers recognized this and have worked well with the students to refresh the students on what they may have forgotten.

He also says gaps help a student in the long run as they’ll most likely experience gaps in the real world and in college.

Williams believes trimesters are here to stay at SSC as it isn’t any more expensive and he says more and more schools are making the switch to achieve the new state-guidelines.

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