New 9th hour getting high marks

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By Pam Reinig

Register Editor


Shaving a few minutes off each class period this year has enabled Central Schools to offer a “ninth hour” focused on intervention and enrichment efforts. As students hit the midpoint of the current academic year, anecdotal information suggests that the new ninth hour is achieving its dual goals of bolstering academic skills deficiencies, as needed, and exposing students to unique activities ranging from looming to meditation strategies.

“I recently talked with some student council members to get feedback, and they were very encouraging about it,” said Dan Yanda, Central’s Middle School and High School Principal. “It seems to be something they’re enjoying.”

Ninth hour is scheduled for sixth through 12 graders Mondays through Thursdays from 2:57 to 3:30 p.m. There’s no 9th hour on Fridays due to the school’s early dismissal time. 

Central is the only area school to offer something like the 9th hour program, though at least one other institution has special set-aside time for intervention. Yanda is also aware of a school that offers a regular, all-day enrichment program with voluntary attendance.

“We had to develop something that worked for our students,” said Yanda, “something that met their needs. We’ve tried different things like an after-school program that started out well but soon fizzled. This seems to work, in part, I think, because it’s part of the regular school day.”

All 200-plus middle school and high school students must participate in 9th hour. 

Students not requiring help with academic skills can sign up for one of several enrichment options. Suggested by faculty and staff based on their interests and the perceived interests of students, 9th hour classes generally last three weeks, although some have gone longer. The current slate includes knitting, culture and food, team building exercises and book club. Earlier this year, there were classes in Claymation, a form of animation; nutrition; and community service projects.

“It can be a challenge to get students to move out of their comfort areas and do things they might not think they’d like to do,” admitted Yanda. “But that’s also part of the learning experience.”

Yanda said 9th hour gets high marks from teachers and staff who are able to share educational values in ways that might not come across in the course of a normal teaching day. In addition, there are no grades, tests or quizzes for 9th hour offerings, which lets teachers and students relate in a different way.

“When you take away the pressure of grades, you can build on another dimension of the teacher-student relationship,” Yanda said.

Central will continue its 9th hour program next year. Yanda is especially hopeful to find ways to further emphasize the intervention side of the program. Currently, only about 10 percent of students are in the intervention programs. 

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