Designing Pathways

By Emma Swanson

Big changes could be coming to the high school, some of the recommendations include having an eight period day, the inclusion of a capstone project, and more online classes. Now with the transition to the second phase of the Designing Pathways program, it will soon be decided which of these proposals will make the cut.

The Designing Pathways program is the plan to improve all of the schools in the district. The program’s goal is to create a more personalized learning environment for each student and for the education process to run more smoothly.

The first phase of Designing Pathways was focused primarily on coming up with ideas to implement in the school system. Now with the start of the second phase, the program will begin to decide on which ideas to keep and how they will begin to implement them throughout the school district. “Phase 2 is going to look at all the hows,” said District Director of Communications Jaclyn Swords. In phase 2, input teams will be working together to decide how to implement all the new changes.

Many of these changes proposed could drastically impact the high school, such as the plan to allow students to take classes out of the regular school day schedule. McCartan said a possibility could be to run on an 8 period day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and students could take any classes they choose to in that block.

“If a student wants to say I’m better at learning later, then they can do it,” said Principal Conn McCartan. Students would not need to be there for all of the eight periods but rather they could choose the classes that better fit around their schedule and learning needs.

The other aspect of this process is the inclusion of a summer term, allowing students to have a regular school schedule in the summer if they needed. If a student needs to take a few weeks off from school they would be able to take that term off and come in for the summer term, since a student would only be required to come to school for four out of the five terms. This would take a lot of the stress off of students to complete missed assignments and allow families to travel and make plans any time throughout the year opposed to just in the summer time according to McCartan.

Another change that might be coming to the high school in the future is the inclusion of a capstone project. A capstone project would be “an opportunity to do culminating projects that would be meaningful to students and would summarize important learning,” said McCartan. Students create projects that reflect all the learning they have done throughout their education.

This project would appeal to many students because students can focus on anything that is important to them. “Rather than write another essay I’d want to do something fun,” says freshman Sumana Seethamraju. A capstone project could be anything from creating some form of visual art to a research paper about a topic of choice.

These changes still might be a ways out, but many teachers could be impacted in the future. “It would be a great experience for students,” said Social Studies teacher Anna Hoppe, but she believes a 12 hour day would be difficult for many teachers. McCartan has considered this problem and has a few ideas about how to make a new schedule work for the teachers. He suggests allowing teachers to sign up for shifts that will best work for them, essentially allowing teachers the same flexibility as students.

Many of the proposed recommendations to the high school have strong support from the superintendent and are likely to go through said McCartan. However the details have not yet been finalized. At this time not much is known about what programs will be passed or when the changes will be made, but we could have more answers closer to April, as that is the projected end of phase 2.