Only 7 classes a day; how about 8?

   By Jordan Ross, Staff Writer

   The 2016-17 school year will be the first in which an extra class period before school called “zero hour” is available for sophomore to senior students at Carroll High School (CHS).

   Although Assistant Principal Brandon Bitting is expecting considerable use of zero hour by students, taking the extra period is not mandatory.

   “It [zero hour] is a voluntary opportunity that students can use to get an extra class in,” Bitting said. “We are still going to have a traditional seven period schedule next year.”

   Zero hour first became a feasible option for CHS when Superintendent Chris Himsel noticed that there would be extra time available in the morning with the school day starting at a later time, approximately 8:40 a.m., beginning next year.

   “It [the idea for zero hour] all started when the day of the high school was going to shift,” Bitting said. “That was when it [zero hour] was noted, plus Himsel had spoken about other school corporations utilizing an extra class period.”

   To Bitting, the whole push behind zero hour is that it is simply a wonderful opportunity for students to have an extra class for a multitude of reasons.

   “I think of a band student who wants to be in band, Project Lead The Way, but also needs a study hall and can’t on a seven period day,” Bitting said. “Instead, they can take a course during zero hour and then work in a study hall.”

   With the school day beginning later next year at approximately 8:40 a.m., zero hour is expected to begin at 7:25 a.m. and end roughly around 8:25 a.m. The added class period will take place every school day except for Wednesdays, due to teacher collaboration.

   As the guidance office has been processing Carroll students’ course selection sheets for the upcoming school year, Bitting has noticed an even balance between sophomores, juniors, and seniors participating in zero hour.

   “I hate to say it, because they [guidance counselors] are still going through selection sheets,” Bitting said, “but it looks like at this point there is a pretty positive response so far.”

   The zero hour has no set classes at this point in time, but courses for the extra period will instead be chosen much like how the rest of the master schedule is. Essentially, the master schedule is a list of what every teacher teaches and what period they teach.

“The master schedule is student driven and built around the needs of the student,” Bitting said.

   The master schedule is generated through a computer program that attempts to fit as many students as possible within their course selections. Zero hour will factor right into the rest of the master schedule.

   “This is why the school counselors are so encouraging to make sure those course selections are accurate,” Bitting said, “because like anything, the end process is only as good as the data put in.”

   Although the classes available during zero hour remain up in the air, it is likely the zero hour courses will reoccur throughout the day.

    “For example, AP Calculus may shuffle in to be a zero hour, but there are also two or three other classes of AP Calc,” Bitting said. “We don't want a student that thinks ‘I want to take AP Calculus, but I have to take it during a zero hour.’ We want to keep it voluntary.”

    Overall, Bitting has faith that zero hour will be beneficial for Carroll students and their needs.

   “I think that zero hour will be a great opportunity for those students who want to take advantage of it,” Bitting said. “It won’t be good for every student, but it may for some and those are the students that I think will find it useful.”