By Joey McWilliams
Durant High School is making a big adjustment for the 2017-2018 school year. The school is moving from seven periods a day to an eight-period format.
DHS principal Cheryl Conditt said a big reason for this change is to reduce class size, which has been growing over the years.
“We were getting to where 28, 29 and 30 were the norm for our class sizes,” Conditt said. “And that’s just really difficult when you teach the rigor that we teach here at the high school. So in order for teachers to have a little more flexibility and be able to assist students, reducing those class sizes was just a huge focus for us. This was one of the ways we found to do that.
“By adding an extra period in a day, you spread those kids out over a lot more sections, when every teacher has at least one more section. Our class sizes will be able to be dropped to where 20 kids is probably the max in most classes. There will be a few where you have a single section of one thing or another that may be over 20, but there won’t be very many.”
According to the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association’s average daily membership numbers heading into the 2017-2018 school year, Durant High School has the state’s 48th largest student population at 934.44.
Conditt said the move to eight periods gives the school a lot more flexibility in schedule in being able to add classes that students have asked for, such as a leadership class or a stagecraft class. DHS will also be able now to implement an ESL class.
And she said hopefully there will be some sort of industrial certification that can go with those classes, as well.
“It goes along more with skills classes,” Conditt said. “But one of the focuses of the state and the nation is to teach kids ‘hands-on skills’ and when they learn those, such as the ones in the medical field, they just move up through those courses in that program. By the time they finish, then they can qualify as a certified medical assistant.
“Having certification with theatre tech will allow students when they leave high school to have other options. They can go on to college and go directly into the work force with those certifications and the salary they can expect will be better.”
Conditt said DHS will offer an exercise science course as well, that will go into the health science program.
“Those students will learn the skills that a sports trainer would need and will work with our coaches. And there are a lot of scholarships available for that, probably more for that area than there are for an athlete.”
There will be at least five new electives offered and the school will not need to hire any new teachers.
“The courses that we’re offering are courses that the teachers have come and said, ‘I really want to do this. Is this a possibility?’ So we worked the schedule around to do that.
“One of the things I told the teachers is that they would not have an additional prep because of the eighth period. However, we have had teachers actually ask for it, since they have the extra period.”
The classes will now last 45 minutes. Last year, they were 48 minutes long. But the time spent at school is the same time frame as it was last year. The difference that makes this possible is the elimination of the ‘Encore’ period.
Encore wasn’t a course, but was a time period, in which every student went to his or her adviser and stayed with that adviser for 30 minutes.
“I know we have a lot of students that loved that and used it. So we’re working to put some things in place to make sure our students who are struggling are able to get the help they need.”
Orientation and schedule pickup for sophomores and juniors will be Tuesday, Aug. 8, at 10 a.m. in the auditorium and the new schedule will be discussed. Parents are welcomed to attend.