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The Excalibur

November 12, 2009 • Volume 20, Issue 3

section Editor • alana zhang

PSAT block schedule creates problems and poor attitudes

ViewPoints Lancers in the hall answer…

“What’s your

favorite holiday tradition?”

Compiled by Devan Perez Reporter

Alana Zhang Illustrations

Kathleen Go Section Editor

Three hours is a small amount of time that can have a large impact. A mere three hours can benefit a PSAT tester and make another student happy with extra time to sleep in. On Oct. 14, the only day during the year when the PSAT is given, many students, testers, and even teachers were upset without the three hour delay. The new PSAT schedule this year that had students testing during the school year was a poor idea. Without the late start day, PSAT testing forced a two-day block schedule with odd periods on the first day and even periods on the second. The unfamiliar schedule was the reason why classes had to be stretched from 50 minutes to almost two hours. Many students already find 50 minutes hard enough. Two hours is too long to stay on task. As testing went on, many students continued their regular school day. Several bells rang, disrupting testers

who were attempting to concentrate on answering questions. The students not taking the PSAT also proved to be distractions because they were normal rowdy and loud teenagers during passing periods. The problem of distractions in the hall and bells ringing were not a problem when the PSAT was given on late start days. Those students taking the test— especially juniors—were in less than ideal testing conditions. Studies show that students perform better on tests when they are in a smaller group environment, yet many students took the PSAT while sitting in the cafeteria or another large group space with many other test-takers. This situation was even worse in other area high schools, where literally hundreds of students took the PSAT in their school gymnasiums. It will be interesting to see if district-wide PSAT scores suffered as a result of poor testing conditions. The lack of a delayed start not only affected students, but teachers as well. Most teachers lost two days of valuable teaching time because so many students were gone for testing.

Even though an extra hour was added to each period, the hour proved useless because the classes were empty. Many teachers did not want to teach anything new and have one of their classes be ahead of another. This resulted in lesson plans that consisted of movies that took up the period. With a delayed start, students would be learning more despite the fact that each period would only be 25 minutes long. Twenty-five minutes is better than nothing. More learning time was essentially lost in the PSAT block schedule because sophomores missed their entire first period. Sophomores would be able to actually go to their first period if there was a three-hour delay. And because many teachers replaced a lesson with a movie, their students lost an important day of study. District officials need to re-think the decision to administer the PSAT on a normal school day. Even though classes were extended, not much learning went on. Having lost two days of actual school, those important days can never be recovered.

“Hang out with family on Thanksgiving.”

Cody Virden Freshman

“Decorating the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.” Kirsten Bulock freshman

“When we get to open one present on Christmas Eve.”

Lauren Robarts Sophomore

“Eating dinner with the family on Thanksgiving.”

Locked doors create gridlock, tardies

Sam Smith Junior

“Christmas break.” Faatihah Hasan Reporter

Getting to classes on time with jam-packed hallways is not always the best combination. On top of that, locked doors add even more walking and waiting, resulting in tardiness. The 200- and 100-hallways are more crowded this year than previous years, so having the 100 and 200 corridor doors locked is not beneficial for students who need easy access in and out of the school during passing. When the entrances and corridor doors are locked, students must walk unnecessary distances to get to class. Meanwhile, the main entrances are open during normal school hours yet the east entrance in the south locker hallway is only open in the morning

until 8:15 a.m. After this time, it is locked from the outside until the end of lunch when it is opened again, allowing students access in and out of the building until 12:50 p.m. As the primary public entrance that is relatively easy to monitor, the main entrance near the bookkeeper’s office is always open. However, because it does not lead to mobiles or the student parking lot, the main entrance is not of much use to students. Instead, students must take time to find a convenient door, losing the time needed to get to class; the result is that students are often late to class or rush in just as the bell rings. Students with classes in the mobiles have special problems because they have to use the east entrance and combat nearby crowds. Another common gridlock area

is the 200-hallway, which is almost impossible to pass through. The west and north entrances either consist of passing the 200-hallway or going through the rush near the main office as well as the arts and music sections of the school. Even though school security is an important issue, locked doors are too much of an inconvenience. The west entrances and the main entrance are not used by the students who have outside or inside classes, so the school could close the west entrances from the outside for a period of time and open the corridor doors in the 200-hallway for convenience in and out of the school. This way, students with classes outside would have shorter distances to travel, and students coming in wouldn’t need to take a detour route and walk more.

Kristal Lance Junior

“Eating turkey on Thanksgiving.” Stephanie pees Senior

“Going to the Nugget buffet every Christmas Eve since I was born.”

Dane Meier art teacher


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