In with the new at Pelham High

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

When Pelham High School kicks off the new school year this August, students will have new opportunities. This year, PHS will add another class period to move to an eight period school day.

Principal Bob Lavett said, “Adding a class period is going to pay dividends for PHS students.”

Now that PHS will have an eight-period day, our new class period will fall during seventh period. This class will be a bit shorter than our others; however, this additional period will be life-changing for many students. In the spring, students had the chance to choose how to use their seventh period from an array of options presented to them.

Advanced placement students will have an opportunity to return to their AP classes for additional time.

Other students have requested help to improve their reading and math skills. Some students will use this time to pursue interests such as debate, scholarship-seeking in competitive writing and reading with their peers in a classics connection class that Rebecca Burnett will teach.

PHS English teacher Rebecca Burnett holds one of the Classic Connection books she has been able to purchase with her grant winnings. (Special/Connie Nolen)

Burnett said, “I am excited about the eight-period day because students who are in my classic connection class are there because they enjoy reading. I am excited for this time to read books not taught in the regular English curriculum.”

Burnett received a grant to start her classic connection class, which will pair high-interest, young adult literature with the classics. Burnett said, “Two of my favorite classics are “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens and “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck. While I realize everyone is not as excited about classic literature as me, my hope is to get our students even more excited about reading. With the money from the grant, we now have access to more literature.”

These extra opportunities will only cost the students five more minutes in their school day as we begin a bit earlier for the new school year. According to Principal Lavett, “A new starting time of 7:45 a.m. will bring us in line with other high schools in Shelby County.”

Although it may seem like summer has just begun, preparations for the new academic year begin even before summer does at PHS. We’ll have a full house this school year, additional classrooms in our new wing and an expanded cafeteria. All of our new additions of space and opportunities are propelling PHS toward an amazing 2011-2012.

Connie Nolen can be reached by email at