Brian Deutsch, the assistant principal at Livingston High School, sounded the two-minute warning as a dozen or so students strolled back into school after lunch.
"Where's your sense of urgency?" Deutsch asked.
"Two minutes?" one of the students responded. "I can do it."
With more than 1,800 students -- plus their teachers -- this communal lunch is a key component to the school's Rotating Drop Schedule that allows for more instructional time. It’s also been a huge undertaking -- not just for getting students back in class on time.
Now a year old, this major shift in the culture of the school is working, according to a survey of students and staff. The results were presented by Assistant Principal Bronawyn O'Leary to the Board of Education on September 24.
The schedule rotates the times and days students take classes, increasing each class this year to 56 minutes. While teachers and students said it took time to adjust to the changes that began last September, they now prefer the rotating drop schedule, O’Leary said. "Once I adjusted and got used to the new schedule, I preferred it," one staff member responded.
The schedule change comes as the culmination of five years of research and preparation by the high school teachers and District administration.
As with most major changes, the new schedule had its share of growing pains.
"Last year during the unit lunch we had several phone calls regarding where the students were eating, the lunch lines and the lack of space," O'Leary said. "This year I am glad to report that we did not receive one phone call ... I am in the cafe daily and I can say lines are moving, students have plenty of space and the social aspect is wonderful."
In the data presented to the school board, O’Leary noted 77 percent of the staff would choose the new schedule again over the traditional schedule.
More than 50 percent of students surveyed say they are comfortable with the change, saying the rotating drop schedule has positively affected their daily school environment, O’Leary said.
Staff members reported that the rotating classes have positively affected the students’ mood and focus, O’Leary said. "I enjoy how the Rotating Drop Schedule changes the days of the week and eliminates the monotony of doing the same things at the same times of day," one staff member wrote in the survey. "I believe this makes for livelier classes ... The time of day definitely affects the students' mood and focus."
Meanwhile, the amount of homework has decreased on average per night as students report to six classes instead of up to eight classes per day. More than 50 percent of the students said homework is now more manageable.
A copy of the Staff and Student Rotating Drop Schedule Survey is posted on the LPS Website.