Earl Marriott Secondary is keeping fingers crossed that the new five block school day is going to work and reduce overcrowding in the school as students return for the fall term.
The South Surrey school and Cloverdale’s Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary are experimenting with versions of a five-block schedule to stagger student presence in a district that has seen no new school construction in half a decade.
“We’re distributing the population over five blocks instead of four,” explained Marriott principal Peter Johnston last week, adding that the school day will begin with mainly Grade 8s and 9s for the first period at 8 a.m., with older grades being phased in starting with the second period at 9:25 a.m.
He noted Marriott – which is “significantly larger” in population than Tweedsmuir – is implementing the five-block system a little differently, taking the added step of setting up two lunch periods to avoid packing the cafeteria area.
Tweedsmuir principal Allan Buggie said the new schedule there has lined up well.
“Were not expecting any problems at all,” he said. “The co-operation has been tremendous from teachers, kids and parents.”
But Johnston said that while everything is in place for the new system at Marriott, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
“We don’t really know how it’s going to work until the students are in school,” he said. “Check back with me in a week’s time.
“We’ve got all the blocks lined up, we’ve freed up the space, the teachers are happy, we’ve given the students all the classes they wanted – but we haven’t tried all the logistics of running it.”
The ultimate answer is still new school construction, he agreed.
“We’re still advocating very hard for a new school in the South Surrey area, and the funding capital to reduce the stress on schools. For our parents committee, particularly, that’s a number-one priority.”