Classes start, end earlier for high schools

By Philip Franchine

School will be starting and ending earlier for Sahuarita high school students compared to last year, and classes will also be three minutes shorter than last year.

Ending the school day 29 minutes earlier will reduce lost class time for athletes and will make it easier for students taking afternoon career education classes in Tucson, Sahuarita High School Principal Kent Thompson said.

The new daily schedule for SHS will run from 8:20 a.m. to 3:06 p.m. Walden Grove High School will open at 8:15 a.m. and close at 3:06 p.m.

In a ripple effect, the day at Continental Elementary School in Green Valley is moving up to accommodate the earlier start times in Sahuarita. Continental will start at 7:30 a.m. and will close at 2:30 p.m., a half-hour earlier than last year on both ends. That will help in busing Continental students of high school age to Sahuarita. Most will attend Walden Grove High School.

Thompson said shorter individual classes will not hurt the quality of education.

"With that change, however, we are still quite a bit over the minimum daily contact time required by the state. The quality of the instruction will not be impacted," he said.

At both high schools, classes will be 56 minutes. Home room, which is second hour, will be nine minutes longer.

SHS students who want to take certain classes that can't be scheduled at other times can take zero hour classes at 7:19 a.m. in AP government, jazz band, advanced physical education and weights. Walden Grove does not have zero-hour classes and students there cannot register for zero hour at SHS.

The SHS schedule change will allow student athletes and coaches to attend sixth-period classes that they often missed last year when they school hosted home games. Athletes and coaches must leave earlier for road games and still will miss school, but now will miss fewer classes.

The starting times for games are set by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, Thompson said.

The new schedule should allow nearly all students to stay in class for home games, SHS Athletic Director Chris Fanning said.

"The sports that were affected were any sport that began at 4 p.m. or earlier," Fanning said.

The early start times will benefit WGHS athletes as well. The school will offer JV teams in a variety of sports, starting with football, girls volleyball and cheerleading in the fall. Home games will be at Walden Grove for most sports, but home football games and track meets will be at the district stadium at SHS.