By Annie Tran:
The Instructional Council has decided to implement a new schedule with 58 minute class periods and nine minute passing periods starting next year. Lunch and brunch breaks will remain the same length, as well as the start and end times of school. According to Principal Noreen Likins, this lack of two minutes from every class period will not add up and lengthen the school year or significantly affect classes timewise.
The decision to change the current bell schedule was made to accommodate the student body since construction of the new two-story English building will be in the Village and the portables will have to move to the parking lots. “We have already had teachers and students, such as [science teacher Laurie] Pennington, demonstrate how long it would take to walk from one end of the school to another,” Likins said. “Five minutes is simply impossible to go from the new location of the portables to the science buildings.”
Originally, seven plans were presented to the Instructional Council by the staff, but they were narrowed down to four through compromises. “Out of the four plans, the second proposal [which was chosen] was actually the least popular,” Likins said. “However, we chose this because we felt like this was the one that covered all our needs and it was something that we could all live with, which was the main goal.”
When deciding on the proposal, the Instructional Council kept three priorities in mind. First, a longer passing period was necessary due to the increased walking distance between both ends of campus. Secondly, lunch and brunch breaks had to remain the same length because student activities, such as club meetings, occur during lunch. Thirdly, the school start time could not be changed because pushing back Gunn’s start time would cause more traffic, since Terman Middle School starts at 8:05 a.m, and Juana Briones Elementary School starts at 8:15 a.m.
Despite the new times that students have to adjust to, the tardy policy will not be lenient. The bells will be pre-programmed to accommodate these times. “A nine minute passing period is ample time for students to travel comfortably between classes,” Likins wrote in an e-mail. “Teachers and students should be able to adjust to the new start and end times for classes.”
Some students find this new bell schedule a relief. “We already have such a hard time going from the gym to class,” sophomore Vincent Yang said. “I know I’m late to chemistry by two minutes every time I have class in the village a period before. Plus, I don’t think the school would make a decision like this if they didn’t know it’d be good for the students as a whole.”
According to math teacher Dave Deggeller, these lost two minutes will not affect his class that much. “I think it’s a nice compromise, since some of the other plans were a little extreme,” Deggeller said. “I think the only reason people are upset with this schedule is because they hate change and the ending times aren’t in multiples of five.”
Although there are students and teachers who applaud this decision, there are others who find it unnecessary. “I recognize that the schedule needs change, but I think there are better alternatives to it and different ways we could have solved it,” sophomore Philip Liang said. “Taking away class time means it takes away more from our AP classes, tests and labs.” Liang created a group on Facebook named “Gunn Students Against the New Bell Schedule,” in protest of this decision. The group currently has about 40 members.
Freshman Krystal Feri agrees somewhat with Liang. “I like that class time is a little bit less and that we have more time to get from one place to another,” Feri said. “But I think the times are a little unorganized. It’s kind of like repeating the beginning of freshman year all over again, except worse.”
According to Likins, this modified schedule will be in place for the next two to three and a half years, depending on how quickly construction will be completed. However, the bell schedule is subject to change if it does not work well with the student body or staff. “This is a two-year [or more] solution to our campus until the new Village is built,” Director of Athletics Chris Horpel said. “This schedule will be looked at closely, and can be adjusted at [second] semester, if need be.”