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Falcon Free Period Update

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Although there are many benefits to having a free period, it is not as effective in all schools across the county. Principal Bathras has visited other schools to test out the idea. “The reason why we didn’t go for it, is because at our school, the highest achieving school in the county, the need for as much remedial and other work as other school’s [ in the county] need we don’t need that,” said Principal Bathras. Graphic by Michael Bateman.

Q: Why do we not have a free period here at Severna Park?

A: We looked into that, I went to other schools and we looked at the pros and cons, the advantages and disadvantages of that concept and what I saw at the time in other school’s was a free period in which was not used except for a free period. It was more free as opposed to organized, structured, and kids utilizing it the way it should be done. I think kids for the most part, some would do that, but others would use it for idle time, wasted time or time to get into mischief and other things, so why create an opportunity during the school day, and the reason why we didn’t go for it, is because at our school, the highest achieving school in the county, the need for as much remedial and other work as other school’s [ in the county] need we don’t need that, and we have the teacher help days that we offer on Wednesday and Thursday, which is 45 minutes not 30 minutes, and it is twice, and teacher’s of course make themselves available during lunch periods, and on Monday, Wednesday and Friday by appointment after school. Our teachers are flexible with their time as they can be. When you see a Wednesday and Thursday help day, it’s almost as if we have a fifth period, students are here doing make-up work, redo’s. They get individual teacher attention instead of all 1,800 kids running around trying to get to the same room. We still do that concept, we just do it in a different way. It’s structured, it’s effective, and it works. We feel that we can still get to the concept, but we just do it in a way that is more conducive to our student population.


Q: Do we have any future plans to include it in the schedule?

A: Right now, no. I’ve looked into it on two different occasions, and I’ve visited other school’s, one school in particular got to the point where the kids were taking advantage of the situation and it got to the point where it became sheer problematic and they had to shut it down for two weeks because it just became such a supervision problem, and I don’t think we need to go there. The upside to me is not enough pros, because the results of [ a free period] is to get higher achievement, and we have the highest achievement and the highest scores. We have kids who take advantage of redo’s and individual attention from teacher’s. It’s not that we have a system in place that’s broken. I’ve seen the concept a free period in action, and it’s just a lot of idle time.


Q: If we were to have a free period, would it interfere with any of the programs?

A: We have the most kids who do an internship or jumpstart at Anne Arundel Community College in the whole county. We have a lot of kids who do a lot of things at our school, so we have kids who take advantage of these opportunities, and we have the resources to do that, where as other schools don’t have that. It becomes then more of a scheduling conflict and it would be a logistical nightmare to be able to pull it off. We do the teacher help days, and even athletes who have to go to practice, and the coaches know that they have to do that first. Nobody is penalized for being late, not band, not drama not athletes. Every school is different, what my colleagues do at other schools for their student’s needs, I applaud them for that, for looking for creative solutions for what they have to do at their school. I did look into it, I didn’t just say “Eh we’re not going to do it.”


Q: Do you make the schedule for Severna Park High School or is it set by the county?

A: The county will determine the start and end time for your school, and all high school’s are the same. We pretty much have the same bell schedule across the county, for reasons like internships and Community College and CAT South, so I wish I had that kind of opportunity to be able to do something like that, but for the most part, I can’t do that. But we do offer AP Seminar so student’s with four or more AP Classes can have a study hall, and we build opportunities into our schedule, so everything that a free period provides, we build into our schedule throughout the day.

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Falcon Free Period Update