Voices from the semester: students and staff explore this year’s workload, routines, and relationships

ARHS is currently immersed in a new semester schedule, touted by Principal Mark Jackson as offering educational benefits and as a solution to financial constraints.

A typical schedule for students includes a total of seven classes per semester, but a daily load of six classes, with one dropping each day.

Due to the seven-day rotation, each day offers a slightly different schedule.

There are mixed feelings regarding the big change among staff and students.

Although freshmen didn’t get to experience the high school trimesters first hand, they still voiced their opinions, and most had positive things to say.

Freshman Sage Aronson said she likes that in the semester there are only two final exam periods during the year.

She also likes that “we have more time to talk about overall class concepts [from September to January].”

Aronson didn’t like the idea of dropping classes and then picking them up 12 weeks later.

She also said she does have less homework than she expected. “We have less homework from dropping a different class every day,” she said.

However, she wasn’t sure that a 30 minute suggested homework assignment was realistic in all classes; some might have more and some might have less.

Freshman Geoffrey Doyle said he felt like some teachers were keeping up with the homework policy but “others say that if you’re in the middle [of an assignment] and you’re on a roll and are really getting the material, then don’t stop.”

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors had more mixed opinions. Sophomore Negar Farahbakhsh both likes and dislikes the semester schedule.

“You get more time to get to know teachers, but you have one less elective overall,” she said. “But I feel the change was necessary for our school based on the situation we were in.”

Fellow sophomore Sean Towse said he liked that classes are now shorter, but doesn’t like that lunch is later in the day and sometimes after four classes.

Juniors Marco Giavalisco and Ty Loper disliked the change. “There are too many classes per day,” said Giavalisco.

“It would be a lot easier without having to drop a different class every day,” said Loper.

Fellow juniors Ali Starkweather and Sahar Douglas felt the schedule was not as bad as they thought it was going to be.

Finn Cooley, also a junior, didn’t really have a strong opinion about the change but, said “I feel like the teachers are trying to keep up with the 30-minute homework policy but, don’t realize that we also have other classes.”

He said that he has a good deal of homework when it all adds up.

Senior Sam Hare Steig said he likes the semester change. Hare Steig said the days feel similar to last year, but the teachers seem more relaxed about covering curriculum due to the added class days.

Fellow senior Hunter Juras had a different opinion.

“I don’t like the semester change. I don’t like having six classes in one day,” Juras said. “By the end of the day I’m just exhausted, especially with added college work. I think trimesters were the best. Then we didn’t have to worry about a class for a whole trimester.”

When asked about her feelings on the change, head librarian Leslie Lomasson said that it was too early in the year to fully judge.

However, she has noticed first hand that there are not as many big research projects coming in during the beginning part of the year as last year.

She surmised it is because teachers have a bigger workload and don’t have as much time to grade all the different papers.

English teacher Kristen Iverson actually taught during semesters in 1997, before ARHS made the switch to trimesters (from 1998 to 2016). She voiced a negative reaction.

“Semesters were bad then but they’re even worse now,” Ms. Iverson said.

She added, “Teachers want to get to know students, but it’s extremely hard to go from 80 students to 125 at a time. It feels like a factory where teachers are the managers and the kids are the workers.”