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High School Starts On Aug. 29

New seven-period day goes into effect

Columbia High School puts its new seven-period schedule into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 29, the first day of the 2007-08 school year in the White Salmon Valley School District.

The school day at CHS will convene at 8:15 a.m. and let out at 3:10 p.m., just as in years past, but students and teachers will find themselves going through an adjustment period during the transition from last year's five-period day, trimester schedule to the seven-period day, semester calendar.

"I'm sure it will take some time for students and staff to adjust to the new seven-period day," CHS Principal Malcolm Dennis said.

In staff meetings leading up to the start of school, "we will be developing a number of ways to assist students with this transition," Dennis explained. "Daily planners have been ordered for all students and will be passed out the first week of school during advisory classes. In transiting to a seven-period day, all of us will need to budget our time differently."

The local school board approved the seven-period day toward the end of the 2006-07 school year, in response to the budget impacts of declining enrollment at Columbia High.

Because fewer students would be attending CHS in the next school year, a school committee had to design an educational program that would fit the district's budget. The result was a reduction in staff and another major restructuring of the curriculum.

Columbia High will start the new year with 21 teachers (two less than it had a year ago) and six instructional aides, and a projected enrollment of 325, "which is where we finished last school year," Dennis noted.

Still to be filled are positions for a full-time art teacher and a part-time instructional aide.

In 2007-08, Columbia High students will take the same seven classes for the entire year. On regular days, each class period will run 50 minutes, with five-minute passing periods in between classes. Also built into the schedule is a 10-minute mid-morning break between second and third periods and a 35-minute lunch break between fourth and fifth periods.

Other important dates on the 2007-08 calendar include the 2007 season's first home football game on Friday, Aug. 31, against Goldendale; commencement on Saturday, June 7, 2008, and the final day of the school year on Friday, June 13, 2008.

This year will be particularly challenging for the members of CHS's class of 2008.

For the first time, seniors will have to complete a culminating project as one of their graduation requirements.

"With this new state mandate, a new Senior English class was developed which all senior students will be required to take first semester," Dennis said. "The curriculum in this class will assist seniors through the process needed to complete this new project." Presentations of culminating projects, moreover, will occur next April, during the second week of Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) testing.

Seniors also will have to have earned at least 29 credit hours of coursework and met the reading, writing and math standards of the WASL for 10th-graders to be eligible to receive a Certificate of Academic Achievement, which replaces the traditional diploma.

Senior students and their parents or guardians are invited to attend a meeting on Thursday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. in Miller Memorial Gym, to learn more about the culminating project requirement.

For more information, call the CHS office at 493-1970.

Other White Salmon schools

Classes at Hulan L. Whitson will start next Wednesday at 8:15 a.m. and let out for the day at 2:15 p.m. At Wayne M. Henkle Middle School, the school day will run from 8:15 to 3:10.

For more information, call the Whitson office at 493-1560, or the Henkle Office at 493-1502.

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