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New Year, New MHS

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Interim Principal Mrs. Katelyn Miner

Interim Principal Mrs. Katelyn Miner

Photo: Noor Majid

Photo: Noor Majid

Interim Principal Mrs. Katelyn Miner

Noor Majid, Staff Writer

In only the last five years, Manchester High School has undergone four schedule changes. In 2012, there was block scheduling, with lunch waves and four 90-minute periods a day. In 2013, there were six periods a day with lunch waves (much like this year’s schedule without Flex).

And from 2014 to 2016, there was Power Hour.

Power Hour lasted for three years — much longer than the other schedules — but ultimately met its doom at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. Over the summer, administrators and staff worked tirelessly to create a new schedule that fit MHS’s need to have an orderly lunch period but also give time for students to work on projects or assignments, as Power Hour had originally been intended to do. Thus came Flex.

Last year, a committee visited several high schools throughout New England that had schedules similar to or the same as Flex. The Flex schedule, which started a week ago, has a 33-minute block every morning for students to go to the class they have scheduled to study, make up work, finish projects, or receive extra help. Every Monday, or at the beginning of each week, students go to their assigned “Mentor” during the Flex period to schedule their classes for the rest of the week, as well as have a study period or receive more individualized attention from an adult. Flex is intended to fulfill the mission Power Hour never could: allow students extra time to devote to their studies during the school day, but still maintain order and structure on the school campus.

Along with a new schedule, MHS has a new principal this year. Our former principal, Mrs. Jill Krieger, is now superintendent of Region 19 schools (Mansfield, Ashford, and Willington) and Mrs. Katelyn Miner, who is an MHS alumni, has taken up the mantle as interim principal.

“[Being a principal] has been very fun and challenging,” said Miner. “MHS has a very strong team of staff who work very hard, and as a result, I have been really confident about our ability to to provide MHS students with a wonderful experience.”

Mrs. Miner is very excited about this school year, and said she only wants the best for MHS students. The first week of Flex went relatively smoothly. Mrs. Miner and the Flex committee are addressing concerns with access to teachers, and have plans to continually improve access and provide alternatives. On Fridays, Mrs. Miner is holding a Principal’s Advisory during Flex for students to share ideas and questions about our new schedule and MHS in general — all students are welcome, so be sure to share your thoughts and be heard.

Flex is seen as a positive force in MHS. Mrs. Miner hopes that “all students have the opportunity to access the support they need and … pursue activities and enrichment during the school day.” She also anticipates for Flex to “give students the opportunity to connect with adults in the building outside of the more traditional and structured classroom setting.”

“The staff believes that it is those connections that add to a positive climate, help kids feel more connected to school, and motivate students to do the best they can,” she said.

Mrs. Miner also views Mentor Monday as a vital part of the Flex schedule.

“I like the visual of the whole school pausing at the same time to ask [students] how everything is going, and then having mentors and mentees talk together about how to [use Flex time opportunistically,]” she said. “Life is busy; information comes at us quickly and a lot is expected of teenagers, so it is important to pause, breathe, reflect, and have an adult check in on you and help you find the supports you need.”

Despite the many changes MHS has had, the school always seems to come out stronger, smarter, and more close-knit than ever. MHS is a family, and only continues to grow and thrive each day.

It is a new school year, with a new principal and yet another schedule — but we’re off to a wonderful start, and it is exciting to see what this school year will have in store.

 

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