The student news site of Daniel Pearl Magnet High School in Lake Balboa, CA

New changes with 4×4 block schedule

For the 2021-22 school year, DPMHS switched to a 4x4 block schedule. This is one of many new changes students are adjusting to now that they are back on campus.

October 12, 2021

Juniors+Elizabeth+Rose+and+Samantha+Willet+distribute+water+from+a+beaker+for+a+%0Alab+experiment+in+their+AP+Environmental+Science+class.+With+each+class+period+%0Alasting+91+minutes%2C+students+have+more+time+to+do+different+assignments%2C+such+as+%0Aconducting+more+labs+throughout+the+school+year.

Naamah Silcott

Juniors Elizabeth Rose and Samantha Willet distribute water from a beaker for a lab experiment in their AP Environmental Science class. With each class period lasting 91 minutes, students have more time to do different assignments, such as conducting more labs throughout the school year.

After completing the first mester of the 4×4 block schedule, sophomore Cheyanne Losino appreciates how the school’s new schedule fits into her routine, which consists of daily volleyball practice.

“It all lines up really well and the times work,” Losino said.

For the new school year, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) encouraged schools to adopt the 4×4 schedule with incentives of roughly $80,000 in funding for an additional teacher position. Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) decided to put the funds toward extra tutoring and counseling, allowing students to take more classes each year. This enables them to complete more elective and graduation requirement courses. Additionally, the 4×4 schedule promotes both health and safety by limiting the amount of classrooms students enter and come in contact with.  

In May of this year, DPMHS’ faculty voted to implement the 4×4 schedule for the 2021-2022 school year. The new schedule allows students to take four classes in one school day, each being 90 minutes long. As with every new procedure, there are varying opinions regarding the 4×4 schedule.  

The last time students attended school in person, classes were about 63 minutes long.  When students returned to campus for this school year, they were met with an extended class duration of 90 minutes. Some students have found it a challenge to stay alert during the longer classes. Although this may be true, longer classes allow teachers time to explain concepts more thoroughly.

“I get more time for the lesson,” freshman Francesca Sisk said. “The teacher can go more in-depth with the lesson so I can get a better understanding.”

Teachers are also being affected by the 90-minute classes. For instance, history teacher Brenda Helfing tries to keep her class interactive and lively by having students work in groups to create and present posters on assigned reading material.

“I try to mix it up every 20 minutes or so,” Helfing said. “I try to do something different. I also try to get the kids moving out of their seats.”

Under the 4×4 schedule, students have only four classes per semester. Each semester is then broken up into two individual mesters, each lasting 10-weeks. The first mester of the school year will be completed on Oct. 15.  

Most classes last only one semester, while others last two. For example, the school decided to extend the duration of the English 9 course to two semesters so incoming freshmen can become accustomed to the advanced reading and writing skills expected in high school. Physical Education class also lasts the whole school year to give students the ability to meet the number of hours California requires for physical activity in PE.  

“When it comes to choosing what’s being taught each quarter, I have to look at students’ schedules and students’ needs,” Counselor Martina Torres said.

Some view the 4×4 schedule as more efficient. Having four class periods instead of six has helped students feel less overwhelmed and stressed. Taking two-mester long classes is also beneficial. For instance, after such a class is completed, students can fill the period with a course spanning the remaining two mesters of the school year.  Thus, students have the opportunity to finish more classes in one year.  

“Being able to focus on less classes and get more done in the school year, it’s just more productive,” junior Tanner Kirk said.

Although the changes in class schedule provide opportunity, it has also resulted in the loss of nutrition. Some students, including Losino, are unsatisfied with the only break they get in the school day: a 30-minute long lunch.  

“I think that the lunch is really short,” Losino said. “Half an hour is super small considering we’re sitting in multiple classes for 90 minutes straight.”  

For some students, the schedule has impacted extracurricular activities. Senior Rochelle Polushkin’s daily schedule, which includes participating in an after-school dance team, has been impacted by the school’s end time. School ended at 3:02 P.M. before the pandemic and at 2:15 P.M. during distance learning. Now, the school day ends at 3:22 P.M.

“Since we get out later, I get home later. Then I have less time to get ready and leave, so sometimes I don’t really have time to eat before dance,” Polushkin said.

This is only the first year DPMHS has adopted the 4×4 schedule, therefore Principal Armen Petrossian asks students and staff to both patiently endure the difficulties and enjoy the benefits of the new schedule as it is perfected.

“This is something that we’ve tried out and we need to give it a fair try,” Petrossian said.

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