Whitefish High School to Switch to Block Scheduling

By Beacon Staff

The Whitefish School District Board of Trustees voted last week to adopt a modified block schedule for the high school for the 2014-15 school year. The vote came after months of work done by the school’s administrators and a scheduling team made up of teachers, counselors and administrators.

Educators say the change will better prepare students for college.

“We have arrived at this point through an impressive process,” stated Kerry Drown, principal of Whitefish High School. “We all can be inspired by the dedication shown by our teachers to prepare themselves for this educational shift. Also, the work done by the scheduling team has been monumental, as they tried to accommodate the individualized needs of our students and allow for longer periods of uninterrupted learning.”

A focus group of parents, as well as a separate team of community members made up of parents, teachers and students, also contributed to the planning process and development of a formal block schedule. Next year, Monday through Thursday under the new schedule, students will go to each class twice for 90 minutes apiece, rather than the current 47-minute period four times in four days.

The block scheduling will reduce the amount of passing time each week by an hour, and will halve the amount of “housekeeping” done at the beginning and end of each class, according to school officials. Friday’s schedule will revert to a traditional seven-period day.

The approved schedule features the concept of academic flex time, which will occur during the first 90-minute period on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Flex time will make it possible for certain subjects like math and orchestra to exercise a daily habit of routine. Educators say academic flex time will also give students an opportunity to seek extra help from a specific teacher based on the students’ desire for more information on a topic, or a need for additional attention in a certain subject area.

“This flex time concept is an excellent example of how the team worked to customize our schedule to the needs and wants of all teachers and students,” Drown said.

He added, “This change in the schedule at Whitefish High School truly reflects that which is special and unique about an education in Whitefish. Our children are not assembly-line products, they are singular individuals with distinct skills and talents. It is our job to nurture them.”

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