By EMMA SWAIM
Homeroom will take place in each student’s third period classroom for 15 minutes following second period on Fridays. It will be separated from third period by the 15 minute snack period to ensure it is treated as a distinct class.
Teachers provided feedback on their homeroom experience and voted at the end of the 2015-16 school year to restructure homeroom, which was formerly a 35 minute class on Fridays.
“We had a few options,” Mr. Tom Shrake (Science Dept.) said. “I voted to keep it by grade level but to change the formatting. I was in favor of meeting Monday and Friday for 15 minutes [each], instead of once on Friday for 35 min.”
Some teachers found that having no classes with most homeroom students made it difficult to develop a relationship.
“I voted to change [and attach homeroom] to a particular class,” Mrs. Susanne Fitzpatrick (English Dept.) said. “I don’t think I voted for it to be shorter, but I liked the idea to have it attached [to a class]. Even though I really liked my kids, I didn’t feel like we got enough time [on a once-a-week basis] to get to know each other well.”
The long homeroom period was also considered inefficient by the administration.
“35 minutes was too much time,” Mr. Matt Pate (Admin) said. “It wasn’t reaching the goal of making students connections [either].”
Homeroom was first introduced four and a half years ago in 2012 by a committee formed to create a program targeted at strengthening student-teacher relationships on campus.
“It was a pretty involved process and what the committee landed on was homeroom,” Pate said. “The idea was to give it a couple years and see how it worked and make adjustments as needed.”
In 2013, homeroom became a 10 minute addition to fifth period. However, this schedule was changed quickly in response to student and teacher feedback.
“It was felt [that] homeroom in fifth period was blended in with the fifth period class,” Pate said. “Kids weren’t seeing Univision or participating in homeroom activities.”
Homeroom returned to its 35 minute form as a distinct class for the next two years from 2014 to 2016. This school year marks the third time homeroom has been changed.
The administration believes that the most recent change will be a better fit for teachers.
“It was hard to fill that 35 minutes,” Pate said. “I understand there are many [teachers] that either have difficulty filling that time or they don’t want to take the time to plan [activities]. That [was] an extra pressure on teachers that was getting in the way of homeroom.
“With homeroom now advised by third period teachers, students will have over four hours every week during class time to bond and form strong relationships.”
Similarly to the views expressed by teachers, many students also saw last year’s homeroom schedule as inefficient and unhelpful.
“It was a waste of time [because it was too long],” Frank Ly (Sr.) said, “but it was nice to have time dedicated to Univision and announcements.”
“[Homeroom was] filled with people I didn’t talk to,” Anne Iwata (Jr.) said. “I just went, did my homework, watched Univision and left.”
Some students believe that the new schedule change will be beneficial for them, and a major improvement from last year’s schedule.
“It was kind of obstructive to have [homeroom] as a separate class [last year],” Isaiah Penzell (Sr.) said. “I think [the new homeroom schedule] is better.”
Some other students do not think that the new homeroom schedule will successfully bring students and teachers together.
“[15 minutes] sounds a little cramped,” Josh Lambert (Sr.) said. “You won’t have time to get to know a teacher and develop a relationship [outside third period].”
The IMPACT program that helps freshmen transition into UHS will also be substantially affected because of the new homeroom schedule. The program will continue to run through homeroom for freshmen, but activities will be condensed into the new 15 minute time limit.