by Lucas Bandstra and Isabella Baugh
Starting this year, PCHS has introduced Thursday PASS, which is taking the place of morning chapel on Thursdays. During this time, the school has decided to set aside 25 minutes between 2nd and 3rd period as a time for students to focus on academics, meet with teachers to ask questions, get caught up on work, and give students the opportunity to peer tutor one another. Due to this new change, normal Thursday chapel has been moved to Friday, resulting in IMs and a long noon hour only once a week, on Mondays. There have been many ranging opinions on this topic, but it comes down to the question: is providing time for academic help more important than allowing students a break during noon hour?
The way counselor Brad Engbers sees it, not very many students were showing interest in participating in the IMs games. “It seems like interest in IMs was declining, so we wanted to add time in the day to give students some academic help,” said Engbers. He feels that time would be better used having students solely focus on academics. There’s a higher chance of a student asking a teacher a question if there’s time set aside for it.
Principal Dan Van Kooten agrees about the benefits of PASS, emphasizing communication between teachers and their students. “(Thursday PASS) is for teachers and students to spend time together, really digging deeper and making sure students are learning what they need to learn at a high level,” said Van Kooten.
A survey was sent out to everyone at PCHS and received a record 260 responses. On the survey, 73% believe that Thursday PASS is a good idea, either “always” or “some of the time.” “It has been a great way for students to get the extra help that they need with no interference from sports, music, theater or any other excuse that might arise,” said one student. Another student believes, “It’s a good opportunity to ask for help no matter how big or small your question is.”
It appears that what PCHS doesn’t like is having IMs and a long noon hour only once a week. To put it shortly, some students really value and appreciate their IMs time. They love competing and having fun with one another during their long noon hour.
Over 100 students said that they either participate in IMs or watch IMs. “I want IM’s back. Throughout my high school experience I have had IMs, and this year we have a student body that really wants to participate. That’s a special thing. Don’t squelch it,” said one student.
If interest in IMs is declining, it may be in part due to the busyness of the students. They would rather have free time to chill with their friends or work on homework during their long noon hours. “I want more IMs because then I am able to work on homework, hangout with friends, or have meetings for the clubs that I’m involved in. It’s hard to schedule anything with a shorter noon hour,” said one student.
This break is what teacher and students look forward to, which is needed to help get them through the rest of their day. According to the survey, 70% of students marked their long noon hour/ IMs as “Essential. I die slowly throughout the day without it.” Another 26% said that a long noon hour is “preferred, because it was better than having a shorter lunch hour.” This means that 96% of the student body prefers IMs noon hours, and would like more of them. On Mondays, (IMs days) the students that are let out at first bell get a 48 minute long lunch break. Lunch however on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, is only 29 minutes long, if someone is first bell.
It’s those extra 19 minutes on intramural noon hours that makes it so special. Last year, the school had IMs twice a week, and three years ago, IMs took place three times a week. It is the juniors and seniors that are really hurting the most. They know the feeling of having IMs three times a week, and now only having it once a week has caused some mixed feeling among these classes. The majority of these students would still prefer the schedule from two or three years ago.
No matter what, the schedule from this year will stay the way it is. “We will continue to do it, but we know there will be some modifications along the way. It’s kind of fluid right now, but we are going to continue doing Thursday PASS for academic reasons,” said Engbers.
A possible solution for adding another IMs/ long noon hour would be on Wednesdays, which would then prevent PCHS from their regular 2:30 early dismissals. This then brings up the question, “Is getting out an extra fifty minutes early on Wednesdays worth not having another long noon hour?” Perhaps that’s another question worth asking.
What has been concluded through all of this, however, is that Thursday PASS truly is a good, reasonable, academic-based idea with lots of potential. On the other hand, it does take away an IMs noon hour, which 96% of the PCHS population prefered. We recommend that the school administration do all that they can to protect the noon hours at PC. This may mean re-evaluating the weekly schedule once again, adding more free time. In the end it comes down to both options being beneficial, but which is most necessary for the wellbeing of the staff and students at PC?