Vincent adjusts to calendar

Published 2:50 pm Wednesday, July 30, 2008

If this was last year, students would already be milling up and down the halls of Vincent Middle/High School, complaining about homework and contemplating weekend plans. Last year, Vincent was on the year-round school schedule, as the school had been for 14 years.

This isn’t last year, and Vincent is no longer on the year-round schedule, following a hotly protested February ruling by the Shelby County Board of Education that all system schools must follow the traditional schedule.

VMHS Principal Gary Minnick said the forced change is still a bone of contention for those in the community.

“They don’t like losing the calendar. They felt it was unnecessary. They feel an important freedom was taken away from them,” Minnick said. “Anywhere I go in the county, people tell me, ‘I’m sorry they did that to you. I don’t know why they messed with you.’”

Despite the frustration that remains in Vincent, Minnick said residents have made a concerted effort to move on.

“The community doesn’t like it, but they accept it,” he said. “(The year-round schedule) instilled some pride in the community because we were the first ones in Alabama to use it — and the last.”

Sam McKissick, a social studies teacher at the school, said while he is comfortable in either schedule, he understands why the year-round schedule was so important to the community.

“We wanted to improve attendance and learning retention,” he said. “It kind of scares people when you say year-round. Really, it’s an adjusted schedule. We tried it, and we liked it. We were sorry to see it go.”

While the schedule’s gone for now, McKissick said he eventually expects to see some version of it used again.

“I think some form of that calendar will come back. I think we need additional days on our calendar,” he said. “We spend a month testing. We need more instruction days. We need more time.”

McKissick said VMHS’ return to the traditional schedule does have a positive side effect. The school’s schedule is now in line with the School of Technology schedule, which is important for the many students that attend both.

Minnick said another good side of the longer summer break is that teachers have more time to prepare before classes begin. However, that is balanced with the absence of a two-week fall break, he said.

For those most affected by the schedule — the students — the change wasn’t a welcome one.

Jaime Kelley, a rising senior and SGA president, said the year-round schedule was more conducive to learning.

“Being out this long, I feel like I’ve lost everything I’ve learned,” he said. “The teachers are going to have to teach more now.”

Kelley, along with the other members of his class, has never experienced life on the traditional schedule. The adjustment in the summer months has been tough, he said.

“You get bored fast,” he said. “There’s not much to do. There’s too much extra time.”