Photo Jen Fox
Administration decided to eliminate homeroom next year to meet Massachusetts state regulations on total annual learning time, which some teachers and students believe could affect relationships while others are impartial to the change.
According to Assistant Principal Paul DiDomenico, high schools are required to meet 990 hours on learning to abide by state laws. These 990 hours don’t include homeroom, and each minute of the school day is equivalent to three hours in the whole year. Since homeroom is five minutes, it accumulates to 15 hours throughout the year.
“We are trying to figure out a way to add some minutes to learning on a daily basis, so we can meet our requirement to comply with the DESE [MA’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education] regulation that we have 990 hours of teaching and learning,” Principal Tom Mead said.
According to Mead, the new change, effective next year, will move attendance and announcements into first period, making each period a few minutes longer.
In early February, Mead conducted a survey to gather staff and students’ thoughts about homeroom to see what their reaction would be if it were eliminated. Surveying 56 students and teachers, he found that 49 percent of students and 56 percent of teachers surveyed believed that shifting homeroom into first period is a better use of school time.
In meeting the 990 regulation, Mead had to either make the school day longer or remove homeroom. In an online survey of 141 faculty members, which was distributed on March 22, 80 percent responded they prefered to embed homeroom into first period rather than extend the day.
Homeroom was primarily added into the schedule to allow students to have a relationship with teachers that can grow over four years.
“When I first came 11 years ago, they had just reinstituted homeroom,” DiDomenico said. “That was in response to the NEASC organization [New England Association of Schools and Colleges], which suggested to us, as a high school, to create opportunities for students and teachers to get to know each other a little bit better. We imagined homeroom would do that because that teacher would be working with their students for four years.”
Some teachers and students are disappointed that the bonds they have made in homeroom may not be able to grow in the coming years.
“I would find [not having homeroom] different because [after] going through it for four years, I feel like it’s part of the high school experience,” senior Jake Poretsky said.
Other students feel impartial to the new change, or even support it.
“I wouldn’t be upset if [homeroom] wasn’t there, but it’s a nice way to talk to people,” junior Ben Heiserman said.
“For me, there was never any bonding or important activities [in homeroom], so I think getting rid of it is a really good idea because it’s a waste of time,” senior Chris Bigelow said.
“Building relationships is important and is a huge part of what we do as teachers, but we make those relationships regardless,” English teacher Virginia Fitzgerald said. “While I think it is nice to have more students or more people you can connect with, we have to abide by these regulations.”