Students react to homeroom changes

Students+adjust+in+their+new+homeroom.

SL Yearbook

Students adjust in their new homeroom.

Alexis Behrens, Our World Editor

Among the many changes at Southern Lehigh High School this year are those made to the scheduling and purpose of its homeroom classes. For the past three years, these advisory groups consisted of students from all four grades meeting for a short block each morning and a half-hour discussion time every six days. Now, they’ve been shortened to ten minutes between first and second period.

“The reason and rationale for this new schedule was based on a few factors,” principal Mr. Joshua Miller said in the August 2022 newsletter emailed to parents. “Attendance inaccuracies from homeroom attendance that led to inaccurate robocalls home, excessive lateness to school by students, LCTI students missing a portion of 3rd block, and a few other factors.”

The first reason, attendance inaccuracies, could be linked to the open campus style homerooms attempted last year–which is one of the aspects now discontinued. During the short block, students were expected to check in with their teachers for attendance and were then free to roam the school. This system could have also led to the “excessive lateness to school” if students chose to squeak in at the last moment rather than arrive early just to walk the halls. The fact that this relatively unstructured setup led to organizational issues even then is likely part of why it’s ended now, though some students and teachers miss the downtime.

“There was a lot more freedom last year and I feel like that freedom was taken away,” sophomore Wyatt Hartenstine said. “It was a good start to our day last year, and with that being taken away was a bit disappointing and annoying.”

“I personally didn’t have a whole lot of attendance issues, because my homeroom was kind of conditioned to check in, though I see how it could be a problem,” visual arts teacher Mrs. Stephanie Donald says. “But I do miss the free ten minutes in the morning for walking the halls, last minute prepping, or just getting my mindset for the rest of the day.”

Secondly, homeroom groups no longer meet during the Spartan Period six-day rotation for “Spartan Advisory.” In previous years, this small block had theoretically been a time for diverse students of all grades to discuss everything from short-term motivation to life plans. However, Mr. Miller considered these conversations intrusive and uncomfortable for students. 

“When I was doing my interview process to be your principal, the central office made the decision to make sure that I met with students,” Mr. Miller said. “And I heard from everyone and kept hearing the same message: that Advisory had a benefit, but it didn’t outweigh the cost… There were discussions that people didn’t want to have and they felt a little threatened by personal information that was supposed to be shared.”

Sophomore Ella Scheinler agrees that the change was for the better.

“I didn’t like advisory very much,” she said. “I thought it would be a better use of Spartan Period to just have a normal club meeting, since most people just did homework anyway. But I did like having homeroom with a group of people from different grades.” 

Junior RileyAnn Brett agrees that a benefit of eliminating the Spartan Advisory program is allowing students to pick clubs for all six days of the rotation. 

“I like the change so that we can have all of our options [for Spartan Periods] because not many people did the activities in Advisory anyway,” she said.

Mrs. Donald felt that the changes as a whole were positive, though she found herself missing the students she’d mentored in homeroom for the past few years. 

“In some of the homerooms there was a great connection in the past,” she said. “I’m sure we’ll develop those same connections in time.”