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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

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Administration, students team up to build block schedule

Administration, students team up to build block schedule

South has finalized the block schedule to be implemented in the 2014-15 school year, according to South Principal Dr. Brian Wegley.

Wegley said that the three features that needed to be decided were what the alternating block days should be called, how long passing periods should be and how the eight blocks should be numbered. The final version has two alternating Gold and Blue days, three nine minute passing periods and four blocks labeled One, Two, Three and Four for each day. The start and end times of the school day will stay consistent with 2013-2014 year.

The defining features of the block schedule were decided in committee meetings of administrators and teachers, with input from Student Council members, according to Lara Cummings, assistant Principal for student services.

Cummings said that the decision to name the alternating days Gold and Blue days instead of A and B days was nearly unanimous in all groups.

“Because of […] the school spirit here as well, I think people just kind of glommed onto that [color idea] and thought, ‘Yeah, let’s run with this,’” Cummings said. “Visually, I think it will be helpful for staff, I think it will be helpful for students to distinguish the two.”

Susan Levine-Kelley, English department instructional supervisor (IS), said that the Gold and Blue day decision was unanimous in the IS council.

“We all thought that it, visually and cognitively, made so much more sense,” Levine-Kelley said.

Wegley said South’s Gold and Blue days will line up with North’s A and B days so that students attending both schools can have consistency.

“We’re starting with Gold because we do need to line up with North,” Wegley said. “North’s going to still be A/B, so our Blue day will line up with North’s B day.”

The decision to have consistent, nine minute passing periods will be different from North’s ten-seven-ten minute system, and was a split vote across the committees, according to Wegley.  According to Jane Brennan, treasurer for the Junior class, the passing period length was the most debated topic among Student Council.

Wegley said the nine-minute passing period option will provide the best time frame for students and teachers, versus other options that were considered, like ten-seven-ten minutes or three eight minute periods.

“That was a split for everybody,” Wegley said. “But we felt that if you’re [in class for] 90 minutes, then nine minutes [free] is going to really be important. You need time to regroup and catch up […] so we left nine-nine-nine.”

According to Cummings, the option to have the blocks numbered the same on each day was determined by what Powerschool, South’s student information system, could display.

“One through Four, Five through Eight, was ruled out because Powerschool cannot allow names of blocks to be called one thing on one day and [differently] on another day […] although it was the favorite,” Cummings said.

According to Cummings, South administrators examined other schools on the block schedule, like North and Rolling Meadows, for ideas and feedback.

“[We were] talking to other schools and using their wisdom, who [have] gone through the [shift] […] because many times schools made decisions and then […] wound up changing it,” Cummings said.

Cummings said the idea for Gold and Blue days was modeled after Rolling Meadows, which has Purple and Gold days and every morning raises a flag with the color of the day. Superintendent Dr. Michael Riggle felt it important to fit South culture, like the colors, with the block schedule.

“If [the district has] two schools on a block schedule, there are certain things about the South culture that South teachers and South students understand,” Riggle said. “They have to look at how to take [the schedule] and make it work in keeping with the traditions.”

Brennan said that the overall view of Student Council towards the schedule was positive, especially after members shadowed a half-day at North and experienced that block schedule. Brennan herself is excited for the switch, because of the additional classes greater depth of material due to longer time.

“Since it’s my senior year I get to mainly take classes I’m interested in, which will be nice due to the longer periods,” Brennan said.

Specific class details and frequently-asked-questions about the block schedule will be in a brochure called “New Kids on the Block,” compiled by Student Council and the Guidance Department. The brochure will be distributed before registration to help students plan classes.

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