Flexing Into a New School Year

What Is This New Intervention Time, and How Do Students and Staff Feel About It?

Hanna Grass, Writer

In an attempt to create a more normal school environment, the newly created intervention commonly known as “FLEX” has been added into the day’s schedule as a replacement for PowerHour. Two weeks ago on Aug. 30, Flex was first put into action, sparking mixed opinions from both students and staff in regards to the addition of this half hour set between second and third period.

In quick summary, Flex is a 32-minute period when students can reside in a classroom and partake in a variety of activities of their choice. Students can meet up with peers giving them a social opportunity or have alone time to complete academic assignments/study for their regular classes.

To keep things organized, there are certain areas throughout the school set aside specifically for studying or quiet work time. These rooms are referred to as “focus spaces” where talking is kept to a minimum to provide a peaceful and controlled environment for those seeking such discretion.

On the flip side, there are certain areas specifically used to house social seekers during Flex. Many rooms are designated for clubs on certain days, and each teacher has the flexibility to decide the environment their room will provide.

Throughout these past couple of weeks of Flex, both students and staff have begun to find routine in what activities they partake in during this time.

“I use the time to unwind in the morning for the rest of the day. I use it to get some extra homework done in a class I will have later to eliminate some stress,” senior Caleb Baumgardner said. “If I have nothing to do, then it is a good time to be social and gives me something to look forward to in school if nothing else.”

For freshman and sophomore students, this is their first experience of anything close to PowerHour after nearly a whole year of NTI and COVID-19 restrictions in the classroom. In previous years, PowerHour was an hour period for lunch and simply free time for students. It provided a sense of freedom amongst the everyday rules and regulations. It became a known concept students took pride in. Not only did PowerHour offer unrestrained social opportunities, but also had begun to show proven academic growth within our student body.

“The number of kids who failed classes dropped substantially . . . 34% in the first two years we had it [PowerHour],” principal Tim Isaacs said.

Having this extra free time seemed to have a direct and positive effect on grades. However, it quickly became understood that we would not be having a full and complete Power Hour experience at the start of this school year.

In short, “PowerHour is not possible because we can’t feed you [students] in rooms,” Isaacs explained.

The Kentucky Board of Education and Central Offices are currently enforcing policies that prevent students from consuming their meals within classrooms. As a school, Central has no control over these regulations. If in violation, Isaacs could be in risk of losing his license, ultimately making a normal PowerHour impossible at this time.

Of course, this came as a disappointment to many, but it seems there is potential for the return of our school’s tradition.

“If the restrictions relax enough to where we can eat in rooms again, we would go back to PowerHour,” Isaacs assured. In the meantime, Flex has been put into action to offer as much of a similar experience as possible.

Intervention is not only an important part of our students’ socialization and education, but also our staff’s.

“As a teacher, Flex time gives me an opportunity to work with students who need extra assistance or have been absent,” English teacher Kay Mau said. “I also really like that we have the opportunity to get to know our students better with Flex time. I believe building relationships and getting to know kids is the key to success.”

This comes as a common opinion on Flex and intervention for teachers and staff throughout the building. Isaacs says he too enjoys getting to connect with the student body during this time and finds it to be one of, if not the biggest reason intervention is so vital to our school day’s schedule.

Of course, with any change to tradition, there are things many would opt to do differently. According to a survey conducted on students and staff in early September, 27% said they liked how Flex is set up, but 56.2% said they only somewhat liked its current structure. In the search to receive further insight, many students across all grades were ready and willing to share their suggestions about how they would like their Flex time to be executed as the school year progresses.

“I think including a recreation room (maybe in the cafeteria, or commons area) for students with good grades and no other teachers that they need to go see would be a good idea,” Griffin Brandenburg proposed, “because there isn’t really a reliable classroom or place that I’m aware of that you can go to meet up with your friends.”

Additionally, a large majority of students didn’t seem to understand the reasons behind why they can’t have PowerHour and wished the original hour of free time would be reinstated.

“I think we should go back to having PowerHour because a lot of kids can’t get everything done in such little time and I liked where I was able to get my lunch in that time range and not have to sit there and go with the class,” junior Gabriella Goodman said.

Flex time definitely isn’t perfect, and under different circumstances, PowerHour would probably be in full swing. However, given the pandemic and district wide regulations we must follow, it is safe to say Isaacs and school staff are trying their best to create as much of a safe intervention time as possible.