Northside High School Working On Innovative Learning Program

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FORT SMITH (KFSM)—From the time a high-schooler wakes up to the time they go to bed, today’s students are overbooked, said Northside High School Principal Ginni McDonald.

However, a new program she’s working on aims to help students navigate the day more efficiently.

“We're looking at innovative ideas to alter the traditional learning structure to help our students succeed at their highest potential,” McDonald said.

The "School of Innovation" is an initiative McDonald said will improve achievement, increase graduation rates and reduce course failure.

Tuesday through Thursday will run on what’s called a huddle schedule. Regular classes will be shortened by five minutes, creating a 40-minute block of time in the school day for students to focus on what they want.

“For those students who might be going into a club or an organization meeting, they would be working on the projects that would be going on in those clubs or organizations that in the past it occurred before or after school,” McDonald said.

Students could also use the huddle session for extra help in a class or to study -- something sophomore Lauragale Ralston said will be useful as she takes on more AP courses.

“I think it's really going help me with my homework load and learning exactly what I need to know for every test for the curriculum,” Ralston said.

If approved by the school board, the schedule change will go into effect in the fall. The class schedule Monday and Friday will not change.

“What we're hoping is this opportunity gives students a voice for themselves, so they can go and seek the assistance that they need to be as successful as we know they can be,”McDonald said.

The principal said another one of Northside’s innovation practices is bringing in ninth graders to come in and learn about the different electives the high school has to offer, so they’re more knowledgeable of what the course has to offer and they can align their expectations with their long-term goals.