Southwest Michigan schools partake in different academic systems

Ourania Alexopoulos, Staff Writer

Most times as students, we follow the rules and regulations throughout the school without much questioning. We trust the adults and people working behind the scenes to make each day function without fail. Recently, though, I have taken an interest in our school’s decision on the trimester system.

According to Study USA, the trimester system divides the school year into three parts: fall, winter, and spring. Each of these seasons lasts approximately 12-13 weeks in time. The semester system, however, separates the school year into just two parts: fall and spring. These typically last 15 weeks long, each with multiple breaks.

English teacher, Anne Lewis, more commonly known around Loy Norrix as Mrs. Bowser, has been working at the school since the mid-late 90s. She mentioned that there used to be six periods a day, and classes could last up to 36 weeks.

“Teachers were able to forge amazing relationships with their students as we taught a student for a whole year and saw them grow from, say, a 9th grader to an 11th grader during their sophomore year,” Bowser continued. “We then moved to block scheduling and were told that ‘less is more’ as we had less time with our students over the course of the semester/year.”

There are some general benefits to both trimesters and semesters. Trimesters allow students more flexibility and the ability to form more relationships while semesters give students the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the subject due to more weeks enrolled in the class.

“Some students will do well no matter what type of schedule they are on, and the same is true for those uninterested in taking school seriously. It’s the great mass of students ‘in the middle’ who are most affected by such things,” said Bowser. She implied that if students want to learn, they will put forth the effort to.

Whether or not a school is practicing a trimester or semester system doesn’t only affect the students, it has an impact on the teachers as well. They, too, must also acclimate to different demands.

“I do get very frustrated with not being able to really develop strong relationships with students; once you get to know them and figure out what works and what doesn’t, the trimester is over and they are on to someone else’s class,” mentioned Bowser.

For Loy Norrix specifically, some of our scheduled standardized testing conflicts with the layout of breaks.

“I do not like where breaks fall, especially when finals are scheduled for the week after Thanksgiving and the SAT for the week after Spring Break,” said Bowser.

Although both can prove to be beneficial, there are drawbacks to each, just like anything else. Whether or not KPS will join the semester system along with its neighboring schools remains unknown, but could definitely be a possibility in the near future.