Semester schedule’s effect on staff

Tech and science teacher Nick Harrison.Photo: Aly Rutherford

With the change in the master schedule this year, there have been substantial curriculum changes in the Technology, Math, Social Studies, and Science Departments.

The administration is bringing new classes as well as making changes to older ones.

Much of this change is driven by the switch from trimesters to semesters.

The technical education department has experienced great changes due to the semester system.

Although they are more long-term, the effects of the changes could still be felt by teachers and students.

When technology teacher Nick Harrison started teaching at ARHS in 2005, there were seven teachers in the department. Over the course of years, many teachers retired and were not replaced.

Ultimately, this caused the tech department to be dissolved.

Now, of the two remaining tech teachers, Mr. Harrison is in the science department and Lee Larcheveque has joined the art department.

The result of of all of these changes are new classes: Mechanical and Electrical Engineering as well as Robotics and CAD.

Mr. Harrison said, “The smaller class sizes and the improved lab spaces are really helpful for teaching students basics.”

In the future, Mr. Harrison predicts that there will be more robotics and electronics classes since that is the direction that the world is currently headed in.

He also hopes that there will be more ways for seriously interested students to advance beyond the basic introductory classes.

“There is a shortage of young people going into industrial jobs,” said Mr. Harrison.

According to him, it would be good to teach some industrial mechanics as well.

Another class that is seeing major revision is AP Biology, which has long been a popular science option for eleventh graders.

Up until last year, the class was a three trimester course with 68 minute classes, providing sufficient time to address the curriculum.

However, with the new semester schedule and 55 minute classes, a new plan was needed in order to fit in all of the material.

The solution is that as of the 2016-2017 school year, all tenth graders who wish to take AP Biology in eleventh grade need to enroll in Chemistry Honors as well as Genetics and Evolution Honors.

The new Genetics and Evolution class will cover the topics in AP Biology that a background in Chemistry is not required for.

Units in the class include the description of the cell, Mendelian genetics, diversity, and evolution.

Taking the Genetics and Evolution unit out of the eleventh grade AP Biology class will result in the rest of the units fitting into the semester schedule.

Additionally, according to Dr. Fownes, one of the AP Biology teachers, putting the genetics unit in tenth grade “will let us pace [the eleventh grade class] more evenly,” as opposed to the AP Biology class this year.

The Genetics and Evolution class did not affect the 2016-2017 eleventh grade AP Biology students.

In order for all the information to be taught, double blocks of the class were taught in the fall semester, with a single block in the spring semester.

Being able to teach all of the units will allow students to be prepared for the AP Biology exam.

However, the class is not in any way designed for the test, despite the number of students who take it.

Dr. Fownes said, “The test is not the center of our existence.”

Additionally, he said, “The class is not test prep but, a good class will lead to a good AP score.”

Math and social studies are also making big changes to their class offerings, but neither responded to requests for an interview.

If you have any questions regarding the classes you are interested and the way the curriculum has been changed, it is best to speak with a teacher or your guidance counselor.