Style, choice and the old becoming new

Published 4:54 pm Wednesday, October 17, 2018

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

Beginning Pelham High School’s 18-19 year has been a vintage experience. Honors English returns—for juniors and seniors only. Opening old documents with Honors English in their heading seems surreal; however, this happens frequently—because PHS had Honors English for decades.

When we became Pelham City Schools and reworked the course names, our midlevel English changed to Advanced—this year, the switch back from Advanced to Honors in the course names was a surprise.

As Pelham transitioned to a city school system in 2014, experimentation began with exciting new bell schedules to give the students more opportunities and flexibility within the school day. Weeks began with seven-period days from Monday-Wednesday. On Thursdays and Fridays, the schedule shifted to longer classes of two blocked days with odd class periods meeting on Thursdays and even class periods meeting on Fridays.

This structure allowed students longer class periods on Thursdays and Fridays for tackling labs, more in-depth tests, timed-writings and varied class activities.

With the 15-16 academic year, PHS committed almost entirely to longer class periods. Beginning the week each Monday-Thursday with the alternating odd and even class periods allowed for an eighth period gifting students with the opportunity to add an elective class and allowing teachers more days for those labs, tests, timed-writings and in-depth activities.

This structure, referred to as modified alternating block, also allowed for a shorter 40-minute period Mondays-Thursdays called skinny. Skinny period provided time for extra assistance and opportunities for students including tutoring, ACT prep, SGA, Peer Helpers, Publications and make-up tests.

Fridays were hectic! Jokingly called frantic Friday frenzies—because all eight classes met for shorter periods with no time for skinny period—weeks ended with exhaustion. Mildly manic Mondays with Tuesday through Friday block days were suggested as an alternative.

This year, we’ve returned to the seven period days of pre-Pelham City School years, using early mornings and afternoons for any extras. “See you tomorrow” always works as a class ending and class periods fly by. Vintage has become new.