Tag Archives: bell schedule

Schedule change at Summit Shasta affects students

By Zack Navarra

Shasta Editor-In-Chief

Change is simply inevitable, but how and when we change should be determined by the people who will be affected most. Summit Shasta students and faculty have seen radical changes to the daily bell schedule over the past year, and many have something to say about it.

Summit Shasta students and faculty arrived on campus on Aug. 17 for the start of the 2019-20 school year awaiting something entirely new. The previous year’s schedule at Shasta consisted of a block schedule in which every core class was completed before lunch; students would then finish their day with two different personalized flex time classes. 

The 2018-19 Friday schedule featured all-day Mentor SDL (Self-Directed Learning). Mentors being the Summit equivalent of homeroom teachers, SDL is the Summit equivalent of study hall.

For 2019-20, Summit schools transitioned to a schedule that no longer features brunch, Flex Time and Friday Mentor SDL, while seeing the additions of daily Mentor SDL, a 45-minute block Wednesday schedule where students attend all of their core classes, Summit Reads and Solves (English and math intervention) and an earlier school release time.

The new Wednesday schedule incorporates a 90-minute block dedicated to mentor community time. This is then followed by three 45-minute blocks; each of these blocks are from a student’s Monday schedule. Students then have a 35-minute lunch break. Finally this is followed by three more 45-minute blocks; each of those are from a student’s Tuesday schedule.

For many students, these changes came without warning. Shasta senior Allen Estrada said he “learned just three days before school started,” while Shasta junior Aaron Susantin said, “I saw it on my schedule the first or second day of school.” 

Many students did not learn of the new bell schedule until they received their class schedules days before school started. Senior President Jessica Co is one of these students. She said, “Like most students, I learned a week before school started.”

The new schedule has presented multiple problems for the student population at Shasta. The two largest for the Shasta student populace are the lack of brunch and the new Wednesday schedule, which students would prefer to have as Friday’s schedule.

Students have not been shy in expressing their displeasure to their mentors and student representatives. According to senior mentor and English teacher Chelsea Watts, “If you polled my mentor group, 25 out of 25 of them would say I would rather have brunch back.” 

Shasta Junior Class President Melissa Elizarde said, “Many people do not like that we don’t have brunch anymore.”

Students have reported feeling increased levels of hunger throughout the day. Susantin said, “My biggest annoyance is there wasn’t brunch; I get hungry in the middle of the day.” 

Susantin’s sentiment is replicated in Estrada, who said, “We no longer have brunch; I have to get up earlier and make myself heartier breakfast. That way I don’t feel so hungry throughout my classes. Despite that, I still feel pretty hungry.” The loss of brunch ultimately leads to some students feeling higher levels of hunger throughout the day.

Students at Shasta have also expressed their dislike of the newly implemented Wednesday schedule, where students attend one 90-minute block of mentor community time followed by three blocks of mentor SDL. According to senior mentor and history teacher Sarah Dayon, “The Wednesday schedule has been the one thing students have particularly said they dislike.”

This sentiment is expressed by Senior President Co, who said, “I think that the Wednesday schedule is really draining for them because usually we have had a different schedule on Friday, and it’s indicative of the weekend and you get a break, but you’re just coming back to core classes after Wednesday.” 

Co continued, “In general, Wednesday schedule feels really long, because you have half a day going through a full day, and then you have lunch and it’s like starting your day over again.” Students have not been afraid of expressing the stress and strain that can be caused by the Wednesday schedule.

Shasta students have felt an added strain since the introduction of the new Wednesday schedule. Shasta senior Gabe Garfias said, “They kinda surprised me this year. You don’t really think about something until it’s gone, Fridays [SDL] especially were a time for me to get a lot of work done. But now that they are not here, it’s kinda sad and it’s throwing me off a lot.”

The new schedule has managed to bring some improvements to the average student’s life. Elizarde said juniors “find it mainly positive; there are some things they don’t like, but overall I think they’re doing pretty OK with getting used to the new schedule.” She continued by saying, “People are taking advantage of PLT in the morning.” Senior President Co believes that, “It’s helped them with catching the bus on time; it’s helped them get home an hour earlier, and that’s like the main difference.”

 One of the most popular changes among students would be the shift to an earlier lunch. Susantin said, “Lunch period moving closer to noon is nicer. It aligns with when I would normally eat lunch.” Students have been able to find silver linings in the new schedule that will help their day-to-day lives at Shasta. 

Summit Shasta teachers have experienced their own benefits and reservations about the new schedule. 

Teachers at Shasta first learned of the possible schedule changes in the spring of 2019. According to Ms. Dayon, “In the spring they had rolled out three possible schedules that they had proposed; they had talked to school leaders to inform their decision. They presented it to teachers, and we were supposed to give input, but we had no decision-making power.” The Shasta teachers’ role was to provide feedback on which schedule they liked the most, but they had little voice in what those three schedules were, Ms. Dayon explained.

Additionally, Ms. Watts said, “I will say that of the three possibilities that were offered, none of those three ended up being the schedule that we have right now, so the schedule we have right now was not actually one of the three possibilities.” The schedule implemented at the beginning of this school year had two major differences from the one Shasta teachers favored in the spring. The first being that none of the proposed schedules indicated the removal of brunch, and the second being that the current Wednesday schedule was originally proposed to take place on Friday. Teachers became aware of the official schedule in late July.

Shasta faculty have expressed that the lack of brunch has caused certain inconveniences. Ms. Watts said, “As many of our students have expressed, it’s really tough to get to the bathroom or do anything during those five minutes, especially if I am expected to transition into new classroom.” 

Brunch provided an essential time for students and faculty to use the bathroom, interact with others, and prepare for their next class. Now the only time to do that is the five-minute transition periods between core classes. Considering that Shasta teachers often must move to different rooms throughout the day and that there are only three adult bathrooms on campus, it can be nearly impossible for Shasta teachers to use the bathroom from the start of school up until lunch, according to Ms. Watts. 

Teachers have also expressed that they had originally expected the Wednesday schedule to be on Friday. According to Ms. Dayon, “We had originally hoped that the Wednesday schedule would be on Friday. It seemed like something most teachers were giving a lot of input to.” The teachers had pushed for this in order to have a different schedule be toward the end of the week, instead of the middle of the week.

Teachers have found some changes to be extremely beneficial and an overall positive to their day-to-day life. Ms. Dayon said, “I have appreciated being able to see my mentor group every day for longer than 10 minutes.” Previously, mentors only had a guaranteed 10 minutes a day to see their students during “10-minute time.” Under the new schedule, mentors have a guaranteed 70 minutes a day to see their students during mentor SDL.

Ms. Watts shared a similar sentiment regarding the morning SDL when she said, “I think that having mentor PLT [now called SDL] every morning has been a pretty positive shift; I also think that not having all day PLT means that our PLT is more productive on the whole.” Through this change, teachers have been able to more meaningfully connect with students while simultaneously increasing student productivity.

Shasta and Summit administration have been working on possible schedule changes since as early as December 2018. According to Superintendent Anson Jackson, “We had essentially 11 schools last year — 15 schools with like 20 schedules — and so, um, I’m exaggerating, but we had a lot of schedules, and it was very complex, and we took the best of those and iterated to make three different schedules, what worked, what didn’t work, what teachers liked, didn’t like. Those became the three different models.” At this point in time, teachers from Shasta were not directly involved; however, Shasta administration was involved at this point.

In the spring of 2019, Shasta teachers were given the three different schedules to give input on. According to Superintendent Jackson, “We said, ‘OK, teachers we have three models. Let’s look at them, which ones you like the best.’ That information is then referred back to the scheduling team, the Home Office team to figure out, which is made up of leaders and an operational lead to make sure we are fitting the constraints of the state, the requirements. They will say, ‘OK, this is what teachers agreed upon, now give feedback on.’” It was at this point in time that teacher input was being incorporated into the bell schedule plan. 

However, there were still phases after teacher selection, like ensuring that schedules fitted local and state requirements. At this point in time, Shasta teachers were no longer providing feedback to the scheduling team at Summit’s home office. According to Superintendent Jackson, in the period between spring 2019 and July 2019, “Local admin were in conversations throughout the whole rollout.” 

During this period of time, the current Wednesday schedule was finalized. According to Superintendent Jackson, “A number of factors — it came to the point where it became almost an idea, like, we had various schools wanting different things. Some schools wanted the Wednesday; some wanted the Friday. Then we looked at, ‘How do we stay consistent?’ The other piece was that consistency allows for a strong Community Day. So we wanted to have Community Day, as you guys know, at every school to have some idea of, like, if we wanted to do something like a peer-to-peer cross-schools Community Day where we have Shasta and Rainier do like the VC together, that allows for that to happen. When we have different days, it’s hard to have that collaboration peer-to-peer support when it’s not consistent. The idea was to say, ‘OK, they want Friday; they want Wednesday. How do you mitigate? What’s the driving force?’ The driving force was collaboration and consistency, which is why we chose Wednesday.”

The removal of brunch and the addition of breakfast was also implemented during this period of time. Brunch was dropped from the schedule in favor of breakfast, which is a 10-minute period right before school starts where breakfast is served to students. 

Shasta Executive Director Wren Maletsky said, “One of the reasons we are excited to have breakfast instead is we want to make sure we’re offering an opportunity for all students to have the nutrition and energy they need to start the day. So we thought including breakfast as a way to make sure that all students got that. We also have talked a lot as a faculty about if a student is late or they missed that opportunity, like, how do we make sure they still have the energy they need? So we always have food stocked in the office, a student can definitely let their teacher mentor know at any point. But what we did and what happened is students waiting several hours into the school day before they get to eat anything, because we know that not what’s best for students aligning.”

Food is served through this breakfast line at Summit Shasta. PHOTO CREDIT: Zack Navarra

The addition of breakfast might have been intended to offset the loss of brunch while providing benefits for students, but it has fallen short for many students and faculty at Shasta. Previously, Shasta students had to wait three hours and five minutes between brunch and lunch. Now students must wait four hours and 10 minutes in-between their breakfast and lunch meals. This has led to many students feeling hungrier throughout the day. 

Furthermore, brunch was more than just a morning meal for many on campus. Students used it as a time to socialize with classmates, use the bathroom, and prepare for class, along with eat their morning meal. Teachers used this time to meet with students, use the bathroom and transition to different classrooms. Simply put, breakfast can not provide the same benefits that brunch did for students and faculty.

Implementing the Wednesday schedule has caused additional grievances among many students and some teachers. Shasta students must now deal with homework being due the next day in a block schedule system. Students now are being assigned homework on Tuesday that is required by Wednesday. This creates an inequality for students who have that class on Monday; they receive an extra day to do their homework. This inequality goes both ways: students can be assigned homework on Wednesday and have it due the next day, while others won’t be required to finish until Friday. 

This also creates a situation where students will have class on Friday, but be unable to attend Office Hours for help until the upcoming Tuesday. The Wednesday schedule has created unfair logistical problems for students at Shasta.

If the current Wednesday schedule were to be held on Friday, these problems would be avoided. The reason it is on Wednesday does not seem to outweigh the benefits for Shasta students. Community Time at Shasta is used as a time for mentor groups to focus on themselves; that time has rarely been used for communicating with other mentor groups, let alone with other schools. Therefore, it seems that Shasta students would benefit more from having their 45-minute classes on Fridays.

According to Superintendent Jackson,“We want to make sure what’s thoughtful, what’s best for students — thinking long-term, we hope that these adjustments aren’t going to be a one-and-done. We hope the data proves that it’s better, and you guys feel more engaged and feel supported. However, if something happens, we are open to feedback and will make those shifts.” 

The schedule changes brought to Shasta affect students and teachers the most, yet there are clear problems that afflict the students and teachers. Students have the power to voice opinions and push for change through advocacy. To better the experience of Shasta students, brunch should be reinstated and the current Wednesday schedule should be switched to Friday.

Featured Image: Shasta students transition between classes. PHOTO CREDIT: Zack Navarra

Related:

Uniform schedule impacts students lives across Bay Area campuses this school year

Newly implemented schedule troubles Rainier teachers

BREAKING NEWS: Rainier students protest in response to new restricted blacktop usage during lunch break

Uniform schedule impacts students lives across Bay Area campuses this school year

By Evelyn Archibald and Judy Ly  

Editors-in-Chief

Denali senior William Torborg said it is hard for most students to stay focused for long durations. He pointed out that as a student with ADHD, it is harder for him to maintain concentration in class. 

“It’s not like, the most fun to sit through four and a half hours of class and then get a break,” Torborg said. 

In a majority of interviews, students echoed similar concerns in response to no longer having brunch as a form of a break in their daily bell schedule. 

For the 2019-20 school year, a new uniform bell schedule was introduced to students across all Summit schools in California.

Here is a Story Map of all the school sites mentioned in this article. 

One of the changes to the schedule included a new breakfast block before classes started. 

Replacing brunch with breakfast

Brunch, which previously acted as a 15-minute break, in the first portion of classes, was removed. Instead, breakfast was implemented before students start their first block of the day: Mentor Self-Directed Learning (SDL). This class aims to essentially be a study hall for students with their mentor groups. 

Summit Public Schools Superintendent Anson Jackson said the purpose of having classes back-to-back until lunch time, was to make sure teachers had a consistent schedule and workload. Students would in return have a more consistent flow from project to project and class to class, without disruption from a break in between.

“The idea [for students] is to minimize the changes throughout the day and minimize the breaks of cognitive load,” Superintendent Jackson said. 

Rainier Senior President Madelin Morales said she noticed less productivity happening in the classrooms without having a break in between classes. 

Rainier students walk back from the restroom as another student approaches it. PHOTO CREDIT: Judy Ly

“Kids have to use the restroom a lot more during — like during our regular classes, solely because, like, during our break, or what we used to have as brunch, a lot of people use that time to use the restroom,” Morales said. “I definitely noticed a lot more students having to go, like one after another. And it doesn’t seem like they’re doing it just for fun, but they genuinely — because they have to.”  

Hailey Kaufman, a senior from Summit Prep, said her peers have been “losing focus” in class. 

“We’ve lost that break to kind of reset before our next class,” Kaufman said.  

According to Superintendent Jackson, another reason for having brunch removed was so students can start off their day with breakfast. 

A Prep student gets breakfast in the cafeteria before school starts. PHOTO CREDIT: Jonathan Garvin

“Adding breakfast as opposed to taking away brunch is kind of the idea; not to take away anything but to add something,” Superintendent Jackson said. 

However, Tahoma Executive Director Jonathan Stewart said the implementation of breakfast has not been effective on Tahoma’s campus. 

“We have fewer people taking breakfast in the morning than we did people taking brunch last year,” Mr. Stewart said. 

Calvin Andrews, who acted as the student body president for Summit K2’s 2018-19 school year, said brunch was more suitable for students. He explained that brunch allowed students to buy food items between classes, making it more accessible to students who showed up close or late to start time. 

K2 has also implemented a new lining up policy in which students need to line up at a certain area on campus before going to class. Andrews claimed this policy makes it harder for students to buy breakfast before school starts. 

K2 students start their school day by lining up. PHOTO CREDIT: Hannah Kim

K2’s new Executive Director Cythnia Jerez said one of the goals of the lining up policy is to inspire students to get breakfast. 

She said, “Our campus is next to the field where students are, like, lining up. So that encourages, actually, them to actually go to the cafeteria and grab breakfast.”

Superintendent Jackson addressed this concern of students not arriving early enough to access meals and being hungry between classes and lunch. He said teachers are able to provide snacks to students near the end of the morning Mentor SDL block. However, teachers providing snacks is not a normalized standard across all campuses. 

“It’s not an expectation,” Superintendent Jackson explained, “but that is the flexibility of the time.”

By gathering input from local administration at school sites, Superintendent Jackson said drafts of the schedule were created. Later on, three proposed schedule structures were sent to teachers and faculty to gather feedback. 

In the initial drafts made by Summit Leadership (executive administration) and school-site-based administration (principals and deans), the focus was on the scheduling of Mentor SDL time and the structure of core class time. The switch from brunch to breakfast wasn’t included or discussed. 

However, he added that the idea of replacing brunch with breakfast was a joint decision between “school leaders” based off feedback and experiences on campus during brunch. 

“Adding breakfast to the schedule was not a part of that proposal at the time,” Superintendent Jackson said. 

There is a petition circulating to reinstate brunch, as a way to reinstate a morning break, at Rainier’s campus.  

Changes to lunch time

Lunch was altered as well, having the standard lunch time moved to be from 12:30 p.m. until 1:00 p.m. For campuses like Everest and K2, their lunch was shortened. 

Everest students pass through their hallways. PHOTO CREDIT: Molly Pigot

Everest senior Molly Pigot said the response to the reduction has been mostly negative. “Our lunch break was reduced from 45 minutes to 30 minutes, which I think a lot of students are really upset with.” 

For Summit Prep students, Kaufman said lunch is now later in the day than previously. 

Pigot mentioned the students at Summit Everest attempted to stage a walkout against the changes; however, they were met with faculty pushback and students were not allowed to participate.

The lunch break is now earlier for students at Tahoma, Denali, and Shasta compared to last year. 

Shared space concerns

Most Summit schools have their own facilities and campuses for students to attend; however, some school sites are co-located with another school. 

Ernesto Umaña, a middle school math teacher for Summit Tam, said the bell schedule did not heavily impact their shared spaces. Tam’s middle school and high school share a campus, blacktop and gym with Aspire Richmond California College Preparatory Academy. 

He also noted that Tam Middle School now has minimum days on Wednesdays, which has been received positively by students. 

However, in the South Bay, students at Tahoma and Rainier no longer have access to the blacktop area and basketball courts, previously shared with their home school, due to having coinciding lunch times. 

Tahoma students settle into their lunch break. PHOTO CREDIT: Nethan Sivarapu

Mr. Stewart said Tahoma was already considering revoking the access to blacktop usage due to past student behavior issues. The new bell schedule caused Oak Grove High School’s blacktop to be an off-limit space as default. 

At Rainier’s campus students protested against the restricted blacktop usage and bell schedule changes. 

Edwin Avarca, former assistant director and current executive director at Rainier’s campus, said the reasons why Rainier students have to be separated from Mt. Pleasant’s campus are due to safety concerns in regards to student interaction in a shared space. 

Blacktop space and basketball courts are now off limits for Rainier students during their lunch break. PHOTO CREDIT: Judy Ly

“That’s like a large concern that we have as a whole,” Mr. Avarca said, referencing each school’s administration. “How could they support if there’s a potential conflict? I think that that is the biggest concern is ensuring student safety if we’re sharing the blacktop at the same time.”  

Mr. Stewart also said Tahoma’s lunch on Wednesdays is scheduled from 1:10 p.m. to 1:40 p.m. because KIPP, the second school Tahoma is co-located with, has their lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays.  

Denali students slowly trickle in for the school day. PHOTO CREDIT: Ellen Hu

By default, classes start at 8:20 a.m. and end at 3:20 p.m. across all Summit campuses this school year. At Denali’s current high school campus, the school had to adjust their start time. Denali students start their classes at 8:35 a.m. due to an agreement with the City of Sunnyvale. 

Denali Executive Director Kevin Bock explained that the permit Denali has with the city allows for their campus to start no earlier than 8:35 a.m. There is an elementary school across from Denali, meaning the two schools need to stagger start times due to concerns regarding morning traffic. 

Denali students also have lunch at 12:45 p.m., 15 minutes past the default time. 

Continued debate about bell schedule changes

Superintendent Jackson said the Summit Public Schools leadership team prioritized the betterment of students and teachers on the job when creating the uniform bell schedule. 

Andrews disputes this claim, saying that in reality, the opposite effect is happening based on his experiences at K2. He explained that students’ lives can be very different when campuses range from Richmond to San Jose to Daly City. He continued to explain that life for students in Richmond differs greatly from their Summit peers in other cities. 

“We’re two different schools, from different backgrounds, from different economic backgrounds, different racial backgrounds, living in different areas where our lives are different,” Andrews said. “We all have different needs; we all have different wants; we all have things that are affecting us in different ways. And by Summit sort of putting us under an umbrella of, ‘Oh, this works at one school, it will work at another.’ It’s just not working.”  

Featured image at top: K2 students walk to their first class after lining up in the morning. PHOTO CREDIT: Hannah Kim 

Denali Editor-in-Chief Ellen Hu contributed reporting to this article.

Related:

Schedule change at Summit Shasta affects students

Newly implemented schedule troubles Rainier teachers

BREAKING NEWS: Rainier students protest in response to new restricted blacktop usage during lunch break