It is the start of a brand new year, and students are settling into school routines and gearing up for all of the amazing opportunities that the 2017-2018 school year has to offer. As the first quarter of school is coming to a close, it has become obvious that administration and teachers have been making changes to school policies to make Chap a better place. The changes that have sparked the most debate are ones that lie around the homeroom bell schedule and policy. In previous years, the school has allowed a “mass call-out” type policy, where parents called their students out of homeroom for the entire year. This year, however, that policy has come to an end. Chaparral now requires students to be in homeroom as a mandatory part of their weekly schedule, to count towards their time in the classroom. Not only that, but the bell schedule for homeroom has been changed as well. There is now a bell when homeroom officially starts at 8:20, another bell five minutes after at 8:25, a bell 5 minutes before homeroom ends, and yet another when it is officially over at 9:09. Mrs. Cherry in the office assures us that there is definitely reasoning behind the bells, and it makes sense. “What the travel bells do is give teachers a clear indication that the halls should be clear. They make sure that everyone is more on task and accountable for where they’re at, and makes sure that students have valid reasons to travel.” Students at Chaparral can surely attest to the fact that traffic in the halls can get hectic, and having miscellaneous kids in the hall for no real reason would certainly complicate things for teachers trying to get everyone safely to their classes. “We had this bell system for homeroom several years ago”, Mrs. Cherry added, “the system proved successful then because it helped keep students on track and keep halls more clear.” Other teachers in the building believe in the system as well. Mrs. Martin, a math teacher, has experienced homeroom classes first hand and believes that this system is the best way to help our Wolverines succeed academically and socially, and also increase the safety of the building. “I have always had a sign out sheet because I like to know where kids are when they leave my classroom. I know that passes have been given to kids that aren't being used responsibly, students will say they are going to a teacher and instead, leave campus. With the bell schedule as it is now, it makes it very difficult for kids to leave campus and make it back on time for the next bell. This holds kids accountable for their actions, and discourages leaving campus at all during homeroom. It is also important for parents to know where their kids are for safety purposes and in case of any emergency.” Mrs. Martin understands that homeroom is a vital opportunity for all students at Chap, whether they are freshmen or seniors. According to Mrs. Martin, many of the students who were supposed to be in her homeroom opted out last year. “I had two thirds of my homeroom class called out for the entire year last year. The majority of students that were called out were below a C or failing in at least one class. Homeroom is a huge opportunity to not only get help, but also help others and meet people. It is one of the few times here at Chap where all grades can be integrated, helping kids meet people that they wouldn’t have otherwise.” The social aspect of homeroom is often neglected when considering pros of going. It is an important time of the week where, regardless of age and grade, people can bond and form relationships. It is also an amazing tool to help suffering grades. Having that time scheduled to talk with any teacher in the building can be incredibly valuable to get help on difficult assignments and study for tests. Ms.Polak is another teacher in the building who stands behind the new homeroom policy for good reasons. “The way that homeroom is set up this year is really helpful for teachers,” she says, “now I can use the first five minutes of class to take attendance calmly without being overloaded with travel passes, and still be able to let everyone go where they need to be after attendance is in place. It makes it a lot less frantic and more organized, and everyone wins in the end.” Ms. Polak is just one of the countless teachers that have faith in the new system, with her student’s best interest in mind. Homeroom is a highly underrated part of Chap’s schedule, that is purposely built in to help students reach their highest potential academically and socially. The new system may take some getting used to, but overall, it seems like a dependable way to encourage Wolverines, which is what Chaparral is all about.
Story by Alex Merrill