What Students Think of Zero Period

Jaeger Lajewski

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Alarm clock and coffee mug.

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Alarm clock and coffee mug.

In high schools, and some junior high and middle schools, there is the use of a “zero period” class in daily schedules. Zero period typically begins at 7:00 in the morning, like in Madison High School, sometimes at 6:30 and as early as 6:10, to create a period for students to fit in an extra class into their schedule, or to take a class that is only offered during a specific period. While adding zero period does provide students with the freedom of adding an extra class in a schedule, it is also very difficult for students to acquire the right amount of sleep and be attentive throughout the whole school day, when being forced to wake up at such early hours.

Specifically in Madison High School, junior Sara Massey says, “ [zero period] stinks because it’s super early but it leaves me with more time in my schedule to add classes I want to take. I like it because the way it works, most of my friends are in my gym class, but then sometimes I’m rushing to get my stuff in my lockers before first block”. As mentioned, zero period does have an effect, due to the fact that it is so early, but Massey focuses on the fact that zero period allows her to have the schedule that she wants, with the bonus of being with her friends.

Junior Katerina Rettino, another high achieving student at MHS, explains, “ overall it makes the days harder, but you get used to it and learn how to work with it, and it’s worth it because you get to take another class without giving up something else”. This is said despite the fact that Rettino seems to have more cons than pros, in listing: “ you have to wake up earlier, you have less time to get ready and do other work in the morning, lots of people do not have breakfast because they cannot eat that early, and the shorter periods (zero period being a 45 min class) prevents the classes from going too in depth”. It is apparent that despite the sacrifices being made by zero period students, the benefit of having another class is worth it. Although the students themselves think zero period is what is best for them, it is hard to say what is actually best for the student, depending on the stress levels, amount of sleep, and enjoyment of the student.

Junior Swarna Gowtham used to take zero period at the beginning of this year, until having to stop due to the fact that she lives in Harding, farther away from the school. Gowtham says, “ I feel that zero period is a great way for students who want to add extra classes to their schedule to do so, however I marvel at students who choose to do any sort of academic lab work that early in the morning. The school should only allow elective based classes like gym as a zero period option because I have heard many complaints about zero period labs. Zero period personally didn’t work out for me because it strained my sleep schedule which prohibited me from arriving on time to zero period”. Gowtham sheds light on the fact that zero period is more difficult to students who have to travel from farther destinations, and like in her case, can be impossible to make feasible. Gowtham also mentions a unique idea of keeping zero period gym classes and not zero period labs, because of how difficult it is to try and work so early in the day.

While there is a divide between whether students benefit or suffer more from incorporating zero period into their schedule, there is fact that zero period is difficult for students and sometimes impossible to manage. Thus, to benefit the students who will make the sacrifice of taking zero period, an idea could be to reform the flexibility of student’s schedules for the better.