HAMILTON TOWNSHIP – Students in the Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District’s three schools will be able to stay in bed a little while longer next year under a new schedule that Superintendent John Keenan announced in a letter to parents and students last week.
Under the new schedule, homeroom will begin 7:45 a.m., 20 minutes later than the current start time. That will also translate to later bus pickup times. Dismissal time will remain the same, at 2:30 p.m.
Keenan said the district will be implementing a four-day rotating schedule that allows the schools to continue to run eight periods, but only six classes will meet per day on a four-day rotation. Two classes drop each day.
Class periods will be 58 minutes instead of the current 45 minutes. According to Keenan, many high schools in Atlantic County and throughout the state use a similar four-day rotating schedule with much success.
He said that in addition to the later start time, benefits include the following:
- Longer instructional periods allow more time for continuous instruction, quality assignments, authentic assessment, differentiated instruction, and more opportunities for science labs.
- Students do not have the same class at the same time each day.
- While passing time between classes remains at four minutes, students spend more time in the classroom over the course of the school day.
- There is less stress for students, as not all classes meet every day.
Principals at all three of the district’s high schools – Absegami in Galloway, Oakcrest in Mays Landing and Cedar Creek in Egg Harbor City – support the change.
“There are several benefits to the new bell schedule,” Cedar Creek High School Principal Scott Parker said. “Here are a couple: It will eliminate the monotony of having the same schedule every day. The order and dropped classes change for each of the four days.
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“It also gives every class a longer class period with fewer classes per day. This eliminates passing time (less noninstructional time) and gives teachers a longer class period to complete lab-type activities in every discipline. Finally, the later start time, although only 20 minutes, will help staff and students. We currently have students entering the buildings at 7 a.m., earlier than any other district in the area.”
Oakcrest High School Principal James Reina said the new schedule should reduce the number of class absences for students who are involved in a number of extracurricular activities.
"Currently, if you are a three-sport athlete, you might lose your last period of the day a half-dozen times or more. Now, different periods fall at the end of the day so missed class time is minimized," he said.
"Every person has a little different rhythm throughout the course of the day; some are stronger in the early morning, some get going a little later. This schedule allows students to have all classes at least once per week when they are at their strongest," Reina noted.
Absegami High School Principal Jeri-Lyn Vernon said some classes in particular stand to gain in not having their time interrupted by a bell.
"Students in a science class, a physical education class, an art class or a culinary class, for example, now have an extended period of time to finish a science lab, to play a full game of volleyball, create a sculpture or finish cooking a meal without the current time constraint," she said.
"There is something to be said for both students and teachers who get a breather from a class on a particular day. It allows you to catch up, collect your thoughts, finish a homework assignment, study for a test, grade a test, etc.”
Keenan suggests that parents who have concerns or questions contact their child’s guidance counselor.