◆ Officials believe the change will boost academic success while providing more choice to students.
Star Valley High School administration has announced that they are moving forward with transitioning the high school schedule from a semester schedule to a trimester schedule. District and building staff are currently working on plans to transition all students and classes smoothly beginning August of the 2023-2024 school year.
According to research conducted by SVHS Principal Farren Haderlie and district officials, Jason Horsley and Kory Hokanson, the most valuable ingredient in student success is contact with teachers. As a result, the team has decided that SVHS students would benefit from the change to six classes each day on a trimester schedule, which would allow students to be in front of their teachers more frequently with less disruption.
“Our kids are going to benefit from seeing their teachers more frequently,” shared Haderlie in an interview with SVI Media. “Sometimes, for various reasons, kids are not seeing their teachers more than once a week.”
The current block schedule of alternating red and gold days will be dissolved. Students will attend the same six classes each day. Each class will last 64 minutes as oppose to the current class length of 95 minutes.
The high school counselors are preparing schedule options and the IT department has already begun preparing to transition student devices, Canvas, and Infinite Campus for the new schedule.
“We are guessing it’s going to drop class size between three and five kids per class, depending on the class,” said SVHS counselor Ben Hale in a presentation about the transition to the Lincoln County School District No. 2 School Board in the February school board meeting. “If you are looking at elective classes, they will stay the same anyway, because that’s the max they can hold. If you are looking at core classes, [three to five] is our guess. Right now, class sizes are 25-35, even though we try to have smaller classes for freshmen.” The district does not anticipate needing to change staffing in any way.
Graduation requirements will need to be adjusted each year as students transition to the new schedule. On the current semester schedule, students earn eight credits a year. On the trimester schedule, they will earn nine credits a year. Seniors graduating this year are required to have completed 27 credits. Each year, new seniors will need to complete an additional credit, which will put incoming freshmen next year needing approximately 32 trimester credits at graduation.
“We decided on six classes because we are a high school and at a high school, you have choices. Some of those choices could be a vocational choice. A kid wants to go down the road of welding, building construction, auto mechanics. Or that choice could be fine arts. An art pathway. Mr. Erickson, Mr. Horsley and Mr. Hokanson have really hammered home to the community the idea of kids choosing a pathway.
As parents and kids talk about what a career would look like for them, they can go in and choose those classes to tailor whatever that background might be, whether it’s vocational, art or fine arts. For those students, in a trimester, they only have six choices. But overall, in a year, they will have 18 choices, as opposed to 16. Over their entire high school experience, you are going to have eight extra choices. Our hope is that, through this, our students will be able to select and choose what they want, go down the pathways that they and their parents can together choose, and overall there will be a few more options in their high school career.”
Officials have met with all the SVHS departments. Teachers have been informed about what the change should look like for them in their classes and in their programs, and they are working to prepare for the new system.
Families can expect planning for the new school year to look like any other school year. Creating new schedules will continue as before with parents and students meeting with a counselor to select the options most suitable for each student. Students can expect more choices and more opportunities to pursue their personal interests, and parents are invited to reach out to school officials with requests and questions.
“Every day, I work through one situation or another, where I am just so happy and so grateful for the good parenting that is going on,” concluded Haderlie. “We have a great group of parents in our valley. With parents who are trying hard for their kids and teachers who are trying hard for kids, I think that’s why we have been successful in what we have done, whether it’s academics, our music programs, or all of our other activities. Teachers working together for kids – that has the most academic gain of any strategy out there. Teachers are the magic. We are just going to try to position ourselves to leverage that academic piece, and we are pretty grateful to be able to still provide choices for kids.”