HERMISTON - Principal Sean Gallagher admits that Hermiston High School's new class schedule has its hurdles, but two weeks into the academic year he said the trimester system is working well.
"In the end everything will work out, the process was just a little bumpy in the beginning," Gallagher told the Hermiston School Board at its monthly meeting Tuesday night.
Loosely modeled on the quarter system used by many colleges, the school year is divided into three 12-week blocks. A typical school day has five periods, with each period lasting 72 minutes.
Gallagher said the trouble students had while signing up for the right classes was caused by a computer glitch, which has been fixed.
In addition to giving students and teachers the flexibility to dig deeper into subjects like algebra and history by cutting the time students spend changing classes, perhaps the most notable benefit is that the new schedule allows more students to take part in elective classes, Gallagher said.
He reported an almost 14 percent increase in the number of students taking part in the elective classes.
Not all electives saw increases. Courses such as computer assisted drawing, or CAD, and choir saw 20 percent declines in participation.
Every schedule system has shortcomings, Gallagher said, and the next step is finding a way to boost the numbers in those courses.
"We're trying to figure out what needs to happen," Gallagher said. "Where do we have to go to fix it?"
Senior Brittany Wilson, the student representative on the School Board, said she preferred the new schedule. It will be the third schedule system the school has tried since her freshman year. She particularly likes the longer classes, where teachers can focus on a given subject.
"There's more time," Wilson said.
During her junior year, Hermiston had eight periods a day, each class lasting 42 minutes. She prefers the new trimesters partly because of the workload, she said.
"Last year there was eight times as much homework."