New high school schedule causing problems

Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2010

As a student at Juneau-Douglas High School and a member of the girls' basketball team, I want to point out the inconveniences we are facing because of the new high school schedule. Athletes are not the only groups of students that have to endure this inconvenience. A majority of those participating in an extra curricular activity are negatively affected by this new schedule.

Since school is now dismissed at 3:45 p.m., students come home at 7:30 p.m. every day after basketball practice. This leaves very little time to get the homework done. The boys' basketball team has it even worse. They don't get off the court until 10 p.m.

In order for athletes to keep up our grades, we need to have time to study and do our homework assignments. We sometimes have to work late into the night because of the later start.

This is true for all other activities, not just sports. There are 482 students participating in 23 activities such as drama, choir, dance teams, cheerleading, jazz, and band, just to name a few. There are 17 athletic teams at JDHS.

For drama students, it is especially difficult to manage time because they have to practice until as late as 10 p.m. Many students also participate in club activities outside high school activities such as the Soccer Club, The Tornados and the Glacier Swim Club. Some take music lessons and play for the student symphony.

Not only are students in school activities finding the new schedule inconvenient, students with jobs are having difficulties getting to work. They have to work fewer hours or not work at all during the week and take a pay cut because of the new schedule. Those students who work for the state used to work after school, and they now have to be satisfied with just one hour of work in the mornings because the state office hours are 8 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

My older brother, who graduated from JDHS in 2005, also participated in sports, and yet he was able to maintain his good grades and was able to work as a lifeguard at the swimming pool. He was able to do all this because school was dismissed at 2:15 p.m. back then. I too want to have an after-school job, but the opportunities are slim even during the off seasons for sports.

The reason to shift the schedule was to allow students to sleep until later and increase student attendance with the hope that it will decrease the dropout rate. The fact of the matter is that those same students who came to school late before are still coming late or even skipping the first period. Some parents complain that their students are staying up until late because they don't have to wake up early anymore.

So, has the new schedule really helped anybody? In my experience, it has caused a lot of inconveniences to most high school students in Juneau.

The only people who I think have benefited from the new schedule are the working parents of elementary school children. Since elementary school starts at 8 a.m., the parents do not have to send their children to early morning daycare. In some cases, it may not be beneficial even for the elementary students who have to walk to school at 8 a.m. in the dark winter months. What would these children do at home after 2 p.m.? Wasn't the purpose of the new schedule change supposed to help the high school students?

If the school administration were to reverse the high school schedule to 8 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. as before, a majority of students will be able to make better use of their day and be more productive. The current schedule has caused a lot of inconveniences for the high school students and limited our time for study, rest, and family time. I would hope that the school administration would readdress this situation for the sake of the high school population.

• Esra Siddeek is a freshman at JDHS and member of the girls varsity basketball team.

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