New LHS schedule already a success

New LHS schedule already a success
Posted on 01/17/2018

More classes at Lynden High School equals more opportunity to explore. From early childhood education to biotech to advanced culinary, the options within both core curriculum and electives has blossomed with the school’s new scheduling alignment.

As the state changed its graduation requirements, LHS needed to increase the number of credit opportunities for students and decided to jump all the way to students having the ability to garner 32 credits. In the new model, students now take eight classes each semester, attending four each day in an alternating block format.

The benefits have come in waves.

Students now have 85-minute classes instead of the previous 55-minute class time model, which slows down the stress and rush of the school day—there are now just three passing times instead of six—and teachers have the flexibility for more concept-based projects.

For students, they can now take a wider variety of classes, everything from electives they either didn’t previously have room for in the schedule to classes not before offered. And with more classes needed to fill out student needs, teachers can dive into a wider variety of classes, sometimes adding more advanced classes to encourage students to continue exploring topics after interest was piqued by an introductory course.

The flexibility has an even stronger academic component too, as students have the option to take algebra, for example, every day instead of every other day to ensure they don’t fall behind. “We hear positive things, even about the extended algebra, with students saying they really are getting this extra support,” says principal Ian Freeman. “They are using an elective to support their math.” And they don’t have to give up all electives to do it.

“They can take an extended-block in math without having to give up other stuff they love because there is more space for them in the schedule,” says assistant principal Michelle Nilsen.

LHS junior Kobe Elsner says the schedule works better for him on multiple levels. He’s found his careers in education class interesting enough that he’s looking forward to not only learning about how to teach, but the opportunity to get into classrooms and teach students later this year. “It is helping me figure out what I want to do (in the future),” he says.

He also balanced his courses so he has one heavy workload day and one lighter day, allowing him more flexibility in getting his homework done. “If I have a game,” says the LHS basketball player, “I can work on my homework the next day.”

Johnny Garfi, a sophomore, says he prefers the new schedule simply for the opportunity to take more classes, try out more things and meet new students because of it all. By opening up options into electives—such as guitar—he wouldn’t have previously taken, he has met an entirely new group of students.

Junior McKenzie Armerding pairs her Running Start course load at Whatcom Community College with geometry at LHS, all because of the flexibility of the new LHS schedule.

Creating new classes, new ways to explore and fresh occasion to interact with new students all fits with the high school’s effort of keeping students “opportunity ready.” And the students love it.