Reflecting on the Pascack Period

It is safe to say that upon seeing our schedules in the beginning of summer last year, a majority of the Pascack Hills students were very confused about many things. For starters, there was now a unit lunch, whereas last year’s schedule consisted of four different lunch periods. We also noticed that we didn’t have each class daily. Our odd periods were not meeting on Wednesdays, and our even periods were no longer meeting on Tuesdays. On top of all of this weirdness, we now had something called a Pascack Period, or a “Freshman Seminar” for the incoming freshmen.

The idea of having a block schedule, which consists of a free period (or a work period, depending on how you use it), derives from a Californian high school, according to PHHS Assistant Principal Mr. Wieland. “A key feature of the period was to give students more ownership,” Mr. Wieland says. The Pascack Period that originally confused many has become one of the highlights of the newly formatted schedule, according to students and teachers alike. Zach Solon, a PHHS sophomore, believes that the Pascack Period is a “great opportunity to get work done and [to] talk with teachers.” One complaint that many of the students have, however, is that when Pascack Period is cancelled for an assembly, the students would like earlier notice about the cancellation so that they can adjust their work schedules accordingly. The only groups of students that seem to have a general dislike towards the period are the freshmen. During freshman seminar, the freshmen are taught about some basics that are meant to help them with their studies, from learning how to use the school printers to improving organizational skills. Grady Johnson, a PHHS freshman, believes that although some of these lessons do help the new students, most are things that they could figure out themselves…in a much quicker time frame than 85 minutes. Grady says, “I think the freshmen should have a study hall period where kids can make up tests or see teachers instead of being taught things most of us already know.” In contrast, the group that seems to love the Pascack Period the most is the teachers. Ms. Rome, an English teacher for sophomores and juniors, believes that, “Pascack Period is a good way for students to explore their interests in a classroom setting so they’re still somewhat educational.”

So, what does the Pascack Period’s future hold? Well, for starters, minor rumors that have surfaced regarding the cancellation of the period should be put to rest, according to Mr. Wieland. “The period will be returning, however with some potential changes,” says Mr. Wieland. Some of these changes could include the Pascack Period’s designated day of the week. In the early stages of discussion, Mr. Wieland has informed me that there has been talk of rotating the schedule so that our Thursday schedule will be moved to Tuesdays, making Wednesday and Thursday our new block period days. Mr. Wieland, although a fan of this idea overall, fears that this small change in the schedule could result in students having multiple tests or presentations on Friday. Mr. Wieland hopes for students to take more advantage of the Learn to Learn classes, and to maybe step outside of their comfort zone by going to a class or presentation that may pique their interest, such as PHHS junior Sean Burke’s magic act earlier this year. This year was a “test drive” of sorts for the Pascack Period and once student feedback is taken into consideration by administration, we should expect an even better, more efficient block period scheduling for the 2015-2016 school year.