Our schools strive to give students more, which sometimes means giving them less. Next year St. Philip High School will return to a six-hour day.
“I would prefer quality over quantity,” Director of Student Services Kyra Rabbitt said.
Graduation requires 24 credit hours, which divides neatly into four years with a six-hour day. St. Philip changed to a seven-hour day several years ago because individual paths to graduation were no longer so neat.
The intention was to give students wiggle room to pursue the Math and Science Center, Calhoun Area Career Center, Kellogg Community College, and the Advanced Placement courses of their choosing. Unfortunately, doing so reduced class time across the board.
As more students took advantage of these programs, the high school added an optional “zero hour”, making an eight-hour day possible.
Recently, students have been earning high school credit in middle school. Next year’s incoming freshmen will have a Spanish I and a Health credit, and most will have an Algebra I credit.
The 24 credits required for graduation hasn’t changed, which mean, under the current system, our kids’ “elective” credits have swollen to ten, if not more.
And “more” isn’t always more.
Shorter class periods are a huge problem when taking advanced coursework. Our modest student population – spread in several directions at eight different times – often doesn’t have the numbers necessary to keep elective and AP course consistently viable.
Worse, our kids were fatiguing.
“We are expecting students to take college classes and do higher-level coursework, but then expecting them to have an eight-hour day,” Mrs. Rabbitt said. “You don’t take eight different classes in college. You have four, maybe five max.”
Returning to a six-hour day restores balance.
“Teachers have been wanting to go back to it for a while because they want more time with students,” Mrs. Rabbitt said.
What doesn’t change is a student’s ability pursue their own path to graduation. A careful curriculum realignment keeps the MSC, CACC, and KCC as viable options, and makes it easier for students to take AP courses.
Better yet, sustainable numbers will enable our AP program to expand, starting with AP Computer Science next year. The realignment makes room for a much-needed Freshman Technology course.
The optional zero hour will stay. And if a student really wants eight classes, St. Philip staff will find a way.
“If kids want to take more, they still can,” Mrs. Rabbitt said. “I will still work with kids on a one-on-one basis as I always have.”
Basically, St. Philip students are covered – “more” and “less”.
Parents with transition questions or concerns are encouraged to contact Mrs. Rabbitt at firstname.lastname@example.org or St. Philip High School principal Vicky Groat at email@example.com.