Is Change Necessary?

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Autumn Wingate, Staff Writer

      For the past four or more years at Heritage High, we have been using the same finals schedule consistently that both teachers and students were pleased with. Now, during the 2019-2020 school year, it has been flipped into an unfamiliar, chaotic schedule.
      For reference, in the past the finals schedule for the entire Liberty Union High School District (LUHSD) had been a total of four days, which accounted for just two periods a day, for two hours, with a fifteen minute break in between:
      Now, a change has been made causing there to be only three days for finals:
      After speaking to Assistant Principal Ms. MacKinnon, she gave some insight as to why this change was made.
      Mackinnon explained that on November 16, 2018, an emergency alert was put out across most of California to stay inside due to multiple wildfires spreading hazardous smoke through the air. This caused lots of schools to lose a whole day of instructional time, altering the amount of instructional minutes we are supposed to have during each school year. This caused chaos throughout the school board, resulting in a petition so that we would not have to extend our school year to make up for those lost minutes. In result of this, the school board decided to rearrange our finals schedule to only three days to ensure that we have the correct amount of instructional time needed.
    MacKinnon emphasized that this change was made to benefit students and staff, given that teachers agreed that the original two hour periods given were not necessary. She also stated that this new schedule will be set in stone for the upcoming years as well, unless another change is made and approved by the school board.
      This new chaotic schedule has brought up many different thoughts and opinions from many aspects around the Heritage High campus.
      Ms. Martinez, who teaches Spanish 1 and 3, states that she does not agree with the new schedule due to the inconvenience of it, but she understands the reason for the change.
      With Spanish being one of the most affected departments, they had to come up with a whole new plan. Considering that they give a total of three separate finals: speaking, writing, and multiple choice. This new schedule has been deemed ‘inconvenient’ because the department has to shorten and rearrange each final.
      Mrs. Steed, who has worked in the attendance office for years, does not feel there will be as much of a negative impact by the new schedule. She expressed that only the first finals day might be chaotic due to the Patriot Plus at the beginning of the day and lunch at the end. Otherwise, Mrs. Steed is not too worried and feels it will be less stressful than previous years.
      This schedule change is not only affecting the staff, but a majority of the students. Between students with Advanced Placement (AP) classes and returning students who have become accustomed to the long two hour periods for each final, this will be a stressful change.
       At least a fourth of the students at Heritage are enrolled in one or more AP. With being in an AP class, time is crucial for instruction and tests. Considering the students who have more than one AP, having three classes in one day would cause them to cram up to three different types of test material for just one day. More than likely, two out of three of those tests being AP finals.
      Nikhe Braimah (12) has five AP classes, is involved with Leadership, and participates in other extracurriculars. He feels as if this new schedule adds stress to his own busy schedule, but he understands the change.
      “I definitely feel more stressed because I feel like I have more tests in less time, so I have to spend more time studying during the week,” expressed Braimah, “I understand the reason for the change, as we need to add emergency days into our calendar, but I feel like there are other ways we can incorporate emergency days without making finals week even more stressful”.
      Overall, this change will have many negatives and positives to it. With this first semester of the 2019-2020 school year being the first trial using this schedule, we will see how beneficial it is to our instructional time, or if our time for finals was more necessary.