Blended Classes and Block Schedule: Good or Bad?

This year marks the first school year that both blended classes and block schedule are being implemented in the classroom. Many students had their initial doubts about the changes coming to CHS, but the freshmen students now conclude that the changes were for the best.

Rekiyah Bobbitt, freshmen, likes blended classes because she appreciates that the honors students, who have been through standard classes before, can help out the standard students.

“In marketing class, and all my other classes but marketing especially, whenever I have trouble, some honors students help me,” said Bobbitt.

Bobbitt also believes that blended classes create a more inclusive and less stressful school environment.

“If it was separated ㅡ only standard in one class and honors in the other ㅡ it would make children feel excluded or not as smart if they weren’t in honors,” said Bobbitt.

Katherine Stephens, freshmen, thinks that blended classes bring many people together in an inclusive and accepting way.

“I think it’s nice that we can interact with a more diverse group of people,” said Stephens.

“It’s not like the honors kids sit together and the standard kids sit together; it’s really mixed. The only way that you can really tell who’s in the different classes is which papers they get when the teachers hand them out,” said Stephens.

Bobbitt understands that block schedule is an effective way to allow freshmen to adjust to high school.

“I feel that it’s a little less stressful, and there are less due dates since it’s less classes to take. You can really focus on the five subjects you have. It’s less homework, and you get to know your teachers better,” said Bobbitt.

However, Bobbitt says she would prefer to not have block schedule for the rest of high school because she thinks that after freshman year, she will be adjusted to high school and would rather have classes with different people.

“I think we should go back to all seven periods, so we can see different people in our different classes,” said Bobbitt.

Stephens acknowledges that blocked schedule means that students have less homework. However, she doesn’t like the way that the classes are grouped together.

“It’s kind of nice because we don’t have as much homework because we only have five classes rather than seven. I don’t like that now, we have social studies and language arts because those are my two favorites, and in the spring, we have biology and gym, which I don’t like as much,” said Stephens.

Stephens also worries that the students are less likely to remember the material from the classes they took in the first semester.

“The classes you have in the first semester, you might not remember as well the next year because you learned it all in the first half of the year, and then, you get your exams over with,” said Stephens.

The freshmen have exposed that there are many pros and cons to the block schedule and blended classes system. However, they think that the pros outweigh the cons and look forward to what their sophomore year will structurally look like.  

Partnership Between Elon and CHCCS Schools

In recent surveys, CHCCS schools have been identified as schools with high numbers of Academically/Intellectually Gifted (AIG) students. To ensure that the needs of AIG students are being met in the classroom, the Elon AIG Teacher program, a new partnership between Elon and CHCCS schools, was negotiated by CHCCS Superintendent, Dr. Pam Baldwin. This program offers a few graduate classes that are taught at the Masters level to CHCCS teachers. Elon’s School of Education Project, Leveraging All Unique Needs (LAUNCH ), started this program to educate teachers about how to best teach academically gifted students.

“It’s not a true Masters program, but after I finish it, I will get my AIG licensure, which is basically intended to allow me to teach other teachers at this school about teaching AIG students,” said Pierre Lourens, CHS English teacher and journalism advisor.

Lourens explains that the AIG program does a good job of teaching different ways to structure a class to meet the needs of AIG students. The program also provides resources for teaching AIG students for whom English is a second language, or who have learning disabilities. AIG students are students who are identified as being above average in intelligence level and creative potential.

CHS Social Studies teacher Lisa French thinks that this additional licensure will help her to better meet the diverse needs of the students of CHS.

“So far the courses we’ve been taking, although it’s been focused on gifted education, it’s come from the model where the teaching and planning strategies will benefit all students,” said French.

Lourens thinks that the Elon AIG program gives teachers more of a voice in determining the curriculum for future years and ensuring that the highest qual-ity education is available for students.

“I think by having trained people within a lot of the schools will help the natural course of action that we need to plan together, and we need to assess work together,” said Lourens.

Jacqueline Cerda-Smith, social studies teacher, believes that the Elon AIG Teachers program will facilitat communication and collaboration of teachers in CHCCS schools.

“I’m hoping that we can have a more consistent and well-thought-out approach for how we approach AIG stu-
dents in our classroom and the different techniques that we’re using for them. It’s also very helpful to work with other teachers in the school and in the district to collaborate for some of the ideas we have for projects and units,” said Cerda-Smith.

French also thinks that the Elon AIG Teachers Program will add to her toolbox of teaching abilities and will especially help her with teaching blended classes.

“Since I teach these blended classes that we rolled out this year with the freshman class, I’m really excited to get new strategies and new ideas for my lessons to reach my gifted students,” said French.

Cerda-Smith also teaches blended classes. She and the other teachers are confident in their ability to meet the needs of standard and honors level students, but struggle to reach and challenge AIG students.

“Mr. Lourens, Mrs. French and I are all teaching heterogeneous classes this year, so we all feel that the AIG program will be a great fit because we all feel like we don’t know how to best serve academically gifted and talented students,” said Cerda-Smith.

Lourens is excited to meet other teachers from other grade levels and other disciplines through this program. He looks forward to discussing with middle school teachers about how they are preparing their students for high school and what he expects from high school students. Lourens believes that important discussions like these will ensure the fluid transition of students from middle school to high school as they continue on their thirteen-year education path.

Teachers and students are excited for the Elon AIG Teacher Program as it will truly enrich the CHS learning environment for the school’s AIG students.

Pierre Lourens and Lisa French are both part of the Elon AIG Teacher program. 

Changes coming for CHS classes

Blended classes were implemented this year in English and social studies classes of the current freshmen. Based on the program’s success, CHS faculty and staff will expand blended classes to both the sophomore and freshman classes for the 2018-2019 school year.

The blended classes initiative began five or six years ago, but the Board of Education didn’t approve it at the time. With the current freshman class, though, CHS faculty and staff have revisited the policy with the support of both the CHCCS Board of Education and the new superintendent. As a result, freshmen English and world history classes at CHS have included students enrolled in honors and standard.

Blended classes consist of both standard and honors students in the same classroom. Honors students are held to a higher standard of work than standard students. Having standard and honors students in the same classroom allows students to better assess which class is right for them.

“Students are exposed first quarter to the teacher and the content, and they and their family can decide if they want to do standard or honors without having to switch classes and schedules at that point,” said Principal Beverly Rudolph.

CHS English teacher Sibel Byrnes will be teaching blended classes for the first time next year. She has never taught blended classes before, but she is ready to do lots of training over the summer to prepare.

“I’m excited because I know how well the ninth grade blended classes have gone, so I’m excited to bring that up into the tenth grade classes,” said Byrnes.

Byrnes explained that in her English classes, she normally does whole class novels. With blended classes, she plans to get more creative with the way she teaches by introducing independent reading and group reading, such as literature circles.

Blended classes also allow students to select their classes free from the influence of their peers, CHS social studies teacher Lisa French explains.

“There is also the benefit that students don’t have to worry about taking a certain course because their friends are taking it. They can still be with their friends, but pick the course that is right for them,” said French.

When walking through the CHS hallways, it’s easy to observe that classes are racially skewed. CHS teachers recognize the importance of having racially diverse classrooms to allow for different points of view to be expressed and see blended classes as a step towards creating that.

“It really does create a learning environment where you are forced to learn from people that are different from you, and that’s part of what an education is,” said Rudolph.

Additionally, the racial grouping that begins in the classroom continues outside of it as students tend to be friends with students they have classes with. This can create cliques based on race — cliques that can foster ignorance about racial and cultural differences.

“From my experience this year, having taught both standard and honors level classes, students tend to get in bubbles here where they don’t interact with students they don’t regularly have classes with. I saw this stratification for the past few years, but with blended classes, I’m not seeing that as much, so I think that on a social level there is more cohesion,” said English teacher Anthony Swaringen.

Rudolph hopes that blended classes can teach students how people different than themselves think and act. She hopes that this understanding and cooperation will facilitate the growth of the kind of adults needed to lead the nation.

“Our society doesn’t know how to talk to people who are different than us culturally or belief-wise. We’re terrible at it. My hope is that, by being in a more diverse atmosphere, students learn multiple points of view,” said Rudolph.

French hopes that blended classes will help students find the class that is right for them as well as improve overall diversity.

“My hope for blended classes is that it will increase the diversity in the classroom and increase the diversity of the students in honors courses,” said French.

Swaringen thinks that blended classes will teach students that everyone grows and improves regardless of whether they start in an honors class or a standard class. He thinks everyone should have access to an honors level education and that it’s important that everyone understands what honors classes entail.

With blended classes’ emphasis on diversity and appropriate placement, faculty hope achievement improves. Understanding other points of view may help students both receive a better education and grow into respectful adults.

Illustration by Ryx Zan

Failed New Year’s resolutions

Every New Year, people across the world discuss what they will do to grow in the new year. However, by the time March rolls around, most New Year’s Resolutions are left in the dust, leaving many — including CHS students — to wonder if a new year really does mean a new me.

Katie Brannum, sophomore, made the New Year’s Resolution to make her bed, be more cleanly and have better organization habits.

“I need to be cleaner and more organized, so I don’t have to clean my room every weekend,” said Brannum.

However, Brannum quickly forgot her New Year’s Resolution by the second day of 2018. She decided that the resolution was too much effort to maintain and that it would be best to fall back on her old habits. Brannum thinks New Year’s Resolutions are pointless and forgotten within a few days. She also believes there is no such thing as New year, New Me.

“You can’t be a new person every year. You’d have to change everything and be completely different,” said Brannum.

Cora Therber, sophomore, made a New Year’s Resolution focusing on their happiness and self-health.

“My New Year’s Resolution was to do more things that I enjoy with my free time,” said Therber.

Therber has been gradually working on this goal since last year when they realized that they didn’t actively seek out the things they enjoy during their free time. Therber is now focusing their free time on doing the things that bring them joy and allow them to live their life to the fullest.

“I feel like it will just be good for me because it will make my life better and more fun,” said Therber.

Therber thinks most people don’t follow through with their New Year’s Resolutions. However, when people commit to a resolution and focus on it, they can create a lot of positive change within their life.

Paw La La, sophomore, made it her New Year’s resolution to get to bed earlier and procrastinate less on her homework assignments. She made this resolution because she realized that she was always drowsy and unable to focus during class; she needed to make a change.

“I feel like a zombie when I don’t get enough sleep, and I feel like the main reason for that is procrastination,” said La.

La says she was able to keep the resolution for one week, but after that she fell back on her old habits. La doesn’t think New Year’s resolutions are helpful because she makes a similar resolution each year and nothing changes. She also thinks that a New Year isn’t a strong enough force to motivate a significant change in someone’s life.

“I don’t think [New Year’s Resolutions] are helpful because it’s not a force that can help you do something. If you want to do something, you can start at anytime. If you have your heart into it, of course you can accomplish it” said La.

La thinks change has to be motivated from within an individual and not by a change of the year.

“Just because it’s a New Year doesn’t mean you are going to change. The year has changed, not you,” said La.

New Years is a time to celebrate a new beginning, to reflect and to revise one’s lifestyle. However, most people make goals that are quickly forgotten because the power to change doesn’t come from the changing of the year, but rather from the determination within. If we focus on obtaining a goal, anything is possible.

There are several good books that focus on how to motivate to achieve goals. Drive by David Pink shares secrets for how to accomplish your goals by focusing on self-actualization. Self-actualization is the human desire to reach the highest standard possible and be the best we can be. Pink’s analysis of motivation can be used by students to help them accomplish their goals such as getting a certain test score and improve their daily satisfaction. Charles Duhigg wrote The Power of Habit, which focuses on using the patterns within our lives to achieve success. Duhigg explains why habits exist and how to change unhealthy habits to promote success. Students can use Duhigg’s advice to break their bad habits such as procrastination that prevent them from succeeding in the classroom.

Whether your New Year’s Resolution has been left in the dust or not, it is never too late for a change. All you have to do is find the motivation within.

Illustration by Ruby Handa

Strength in the classroom and on the court

Students leave class early for an away game at a distant school. At the school, an exhilarating match takes place in which the Jaguars come out victorious by a close margin. The student athletes are tired from the hard game, but they feel accomplished with their performances and their victory.

The student athletes enjoy each other’s company on the long bus ride with laughs and jokes. When they finally get home, they are ready for a long shower, some good food, and a good night’s sleep. Then, they suddenly realize that they haven’t even started their homework!

It’s a typical moment in the life of a student athlete: someone who dedicates their time and effort to both keeping up their grades and training for the games that everyone loves to watch. With many things to do and not enough hours in the day, these athletes have to effectively manage their time to navigate through the maze of student-athlete stress.

Sydney West, CHS junior, played middle blocker for the varsity volleyball team. During the season, her team practiced for two hours after school and had games twice a week. The travel time associated with the away games makes it imperative that West and other student athletes manage their time to avoid becoming overly-stressed.

West believes that taking challenging classes and competing at a competitive athletic level is definitely a lot of work. Although, the work is also very rewarding. West has dedicated lots of her time to volleyball, and she has no regrets because she loves the sport.

However, she does wonder about what she could do if she had more free time.

“I wish had more time to pursue different hobbies that I’m interested in,” said West.

Ananya Saravanan, CHS sophomore, is a guard for the varsity basketball team. She thinks that basketball is a great experience and well worth the extra stress.

“I play basketball because I love the sport, the team, and it’s a lot of fun,” said Saravanan in an email.

Saravanan shares that playing basketball doesn’t have to be stressful if you make sure to manage your time well and not procrastinate.

“I do feel stressed if I procrastinate on an assignment, but I generally feel that during basketball season I am more productive since I know that I won’t have as much time to accomplish homework,” said Saravanan.

Saravanan enjoys taking academically rigorous classes and knows that these classes have a larger workload associated with them. However, she finds time to keep up with the work during lunches and after practice. Saravanan also shares that basketball coach Sheremy Dillard-Clanton, sometimes gives the athletes study halls to finish their work before practice.

“As long as I balance my free time to do homework and study, it isn’t impossible to accomplish,” said Saravanan.

Symphony Wiggins, CHS senior, is a dedicated cheerleader and sprinter. She shares that sometimes balancing school work and sports can be stressful because you get home later and have less time to do work. However, Wiggins believes that if you utilize your time well and focus, you can get everything done.

“I feel like it’s all a mental thing; if you are determined, you can balance athletics and academics,” said Wiggins in an email.

Overall, Wiggins is content with her schedule because — although she may have less time than desirable to complete her homework — she has found two sports that are incredibly important to her.

Steven Turner, guidance counselor and soccer coach for 27 years, has both the counseling and coaching perspectives on student athlete stress.

“What I find with student athletes in season is that they somehow become super organized and do better academically because they are forced to handle stress and they do a good job of that,” said Turner.

Turner thinks that the best way to avoid negative student athlete stress is to have a planner and other organization tactics.

He also thinks student athletes should talk more with their teachers, family and friends because it is hard to manage a disorganized day on your own.

“The best student athletes do a great job of writing things down and organizing,” said Turner.

Athletics make students more effective time managers since they know that they have more limited time to do their work. Athletes should stay organized and not procrastinate, so they don’t fall behind in academics.

Athletics provides a fun way for student athletes to learn time management and the other valuable life lessons that sports teach.

Sydney West, volleyball player, after a game this season. Photo by Grace Hegland

Is Chivalry Dead?

Chivalry is dead, or so we often hear. Chivalry originated in the medieval times as a way to differentiate the knights from the common folk in society. Today, the definition and applications of chivalry have drastically changed, leaving CHS students to wonder if chivalry is still alive.

Kimeran Kimble, CHS sophomore, believes that chivalry is still alive, but “it’s just a lot different.”

Since we no longer have knights fighting for their Christian values within the feudal system, the definition of chivalry has been narrowed down to only include basic courteous behaviors and has become a recommended code for men.

Today, the most common place to see chivalrous behavior is between romantic partners — yet it’s not even found in every relationship.

Kimble thinks that you see a lot more examples of non-chivalrous behavior these days, but, every now and then, you do see people honor chivalry by giving flowers or gifts to another. Furthermore, she thinks that chivalry has changed from proper manners to gift giving because of the materialistic focus of modern society.

In medieval society, the feudal system created a rigid structure that determined people’s place in society; this contrasts with modern society where we have the power to determine our place. The development of capitalism has placed emphasis on the importance of making money that you can then use to buy status symbols. By giving gifts to people, you are presenting them with a just that — symbol of your status.

The increased social mobility has brought in more room for competition within our society to pass our peers on the social hierarchy by having more materialistic demonstrations of wealth and prosperity. This makes it evident that the structure of society is built off a foundation of materialism.

Chivalry has continued to evolve through the feminist movement. The feminist movement allowed women to voice their opinions, and some women shared that what traditional chivalry classified as manners, such as holding the door open, can be more patronizing than endearing. Some say, chivalry should be less about protecting women and more about supporting women. Chivalrous behavior should be used to show respect and caring and not be used as an assertion of male power and superiority.

Although the meaning of chivalry has changed over time, there have been various efforts to keep it alive. Couples express acts of thoughtfulness for each other on Valentine’s Day, anniversaries and throughout everyday life. The connections between people — especially love for each other — has kept chivalry alive to this day. Chivalry is an important part of our society and one that is vital to preserve.

Illustration by Ryx Zan

An Unlikely Coincidence

Cameron Ferguson is a new teacher in the social studies department. He went to Smith Middle School, where he had Daphne Montoya as his sixth grade math teacher. This year, Montoya passed away, and Ferguson reflects on his memories of her.

“She was a great teacher and that was a great class. I’m not much of a math guy, to be honest, — I’m a social studies teacher now — but she made math really fun,” said Ferguson.

Ferguson distinctly remembers being in Montoya’s class when 9/ll happened. The class was afraid and shocked, but he feels Montoya managed the situation well.

She calmed us down and was very professional and mature. Obviously, it’s a very scary situation when you’re a sixth grader and you’re told your country’s been attacked; you don’t know what to expect,” said Ferguson.

After all the help and support Montoya provided for her students on September 11, 2001, she coincidentally died this year around September 11.

“It’s really interesting how that came full circle” said Ferguson.

Ferguson wishes he could have had the chance to work with Montoya.

“I think it would have been cool for her to see a former student as a teacher now and [for me to] teach alongside her,” said Ferguson. “I wish I had the chance to have worked with her.”

Terrific Times at T-Dance

CHS students looked forward to T-dance since the beginning of the school year; finally, the long awaited T-dance was Saturday, November 18 at the Hope Valley Country Club in Durham.

T-dance is run by a collection of mothers and daughters and is a great opportunity to dance and have fun with friends. It includes Chapel Hill, East Chapel Hill and Carrboro High School, making it the perfect opportunity to see your old middle school and other friends.

Kelley Gosk, a junior who had a great second T-dance, said in an email interview that her favorite thing about T-dance was “dancing with my friends from other schools.”

“It’ll be nice to have a space where we all can dance and have fun together,” said Morgan Jackson, a sophomore who was excited for her first T-dance.

Many students testify that CHS students won’t regret going to T-dance because they are sure to have a fantastic time. 

“[High School dances] are fun and so rare” said Gosk.

“I just think that even if you don’t have a date, you should just go because it’s a time to have fun and it’s not about going with someone else; it is about spending time with people you don’t usually get to spend time with and getting away from school,” said Jackson.

“I’m definitely hoping for some upbeat songs that we can actually dance to,” said Jackson before the dance.

T-dance had hype music and lots of dancing; overall, it was an unforgettable night for all who attended.

She Kills Monsters Killed It

Student’s excitement about She Kills Monsters continues to buzz through CHS hallways after the memorable performance.

She Kills Monsters explores common topics in many high schoolers’ lives: popularity versus geekiness, relationship problems, sibling problems and sexuality. The performance puts a spin on these typical topics by adding fantasy and adventure as the characters travel through the magical world of Dungeons and Dragons. The relationship between the two sisters, Tilly and Agnes, provides insight on the importance of taking time to learn about your loved ones before it’s too late.

Many students dedicated lots of their time and effort into this play through acting, show-running and set design.

The cast has been rehearsing for about two months, and we have all been learning our lines and blocking,” said Rosie Cassidy, a sophomore actor in the play .  

There was a lot to love about the production, but one highlight involved the exciting stage combat.  

My favorite part about the show is pretty much every time there is stage combat, because the music and lights make the scene look really nice,” said Juanita Roncancio, a sophomore actor.

The props, costumes and makeup gave the show a unique touch. Each character had a striking look that complemented their personality.

“The costumes and makeup are very interesting since there is a wide range of looks in the characters of the play,” said Roncancio. “For example, there are people who are using little to no makeup, as well as regular clothes. Some others wear masks and some other characters who wear lots of dark makeup, with wigs, and unique costumes.”

The comedic relief mixed with the unique plot created a captivating performance that always kept the audience laughing.  

Some of the humor was very good. For example, the gelatinous monster and how it swallowed [Steven] and spit out his bones,” said Bar Caspin, a sophomore who came to see She Kills Monsters.

Many students enjoyed the She Kills Monsters performance. The hard work of the performers was evident in the quality of the show; I can’t think of a better way to have spent my Friday night.

The actors on stage during a performance. Photo by Grace Hegland

In Memory of Mrs. Montoya

Earlier this year, Carrboro High School lost Daphne Montoya, one of the school’s beloved math teachers. Her absence is felt throughout the halls by both the student body and faculty. Today, the JagWire shares a collection of quotes about Montoya.

Jamey Barkdolloni, Resource Teacher who worked with Montoya at Orange High School and CHS

“I was amazed by her abilities to break down complex math concepts into understandable parts for her students. She believed that all of her students could and would be successful if they were willing to put in the time and effort. She attempted to instill that belief in all of her students.”

Juanita Roncancio, a sophomore in Montoya’s class freshman year

“She always chose the students she knew had the right answer to come up and explain, so everybody could understand. As a person, she very strict, but she was also nice. She was the kind of strict that made you like her.”

John Hite, Resource Teacher

“She didn’t want an easy path. She wanted to teach specific classes with students she felt like she could connect with and encourage to reach their full potential. I found that to be very admirable”

Cameron Ferguson, CHS social studies teacher

“I’m a first year teacher here. I didn’t actually know Mrs. Montoya as an adult, but she was my sixth grade math teacher… I wish I could have had the chance to have worked with her.”