Students gain freedom with Ranger Hour

Community Editor

In an attempt to provide students with flexible time to tend to their academic needs and also enjoy some unscheduled time in the middle of the day, Forest Lake Area High School administrators conducted a trial run of what is being called Ranger Hour.

Ranger Hour is a one-hour period in the middle of the day that allows students to eat lunch and spend time engaging in a variety of different academic and extracurricular activities.

“This is 60 minutes in the middle of the day that will allow students to study, connect, enjoy lunch, and recharge,” high school Assistant Principal Justin Sawyer said. “This is similar to a college schedule where not every minute of every day is planned for you.”

During Ranger Hour, teachers will have a 30-minute open office time where students can meet to form study groups, work on homework, read and makeup or redo exams. The gym will also be open for activities such as exercise, jogging or basketball. With budget cuts eliminating activity buses, it was noted that Ranger Hour could also be a time for groups such as student council, FFA or Hmong club to schedule meeting times.

“To be clear, this is not an open campus model,” Sawyer said. “Students will be expected to stay on school grounds during Ranger Hour. There will, however, be some space to relax outside on nice days.”

School administrators held multiple meetings with the food service department, custodians and teaching staff to work out the logistics of Ranger Hour. District officials also traveled to Centennial High School to observe a similar program and held a phone conference with administrators from a school in Florida that also hosts a free hour for students during the day. The Forest Lake trial run took place over four days on May 23, 25 and 30, and June 1.

“In order to maximize instructional time, the school day would start at 7:50 a.m. as opposed to the 8 a.m. that we have been used to,” Sawyer said. “All students would arrive by bus no later than 7:45 a.m.”

A regular day with Ranger Hour incorporated would see students in class for five periods each day. Period one would last from 7:50 to 8:38 a.m., period two would run from 8:44 to 9:32 a.m., period three would go from 9:38 to 10:26 a.m., Ranger Hour would run from 10:26 to 11:26 a.m., period four would be from 11:26 a.m. to 12:55 p.m., and the final period of the day would run from 1:01 to 2:30 p.m.

Forest Lake Area high School officials plan to implement Ranger Hour for the entirety of the 2017-18 school year.

Other news

One of the things that the passage of the 2015 facilities bond ushered in was a shifting of students. All ninth-graders will move into the high school and all seventh- and eighth-graders will attend Century Junior High School. Southwest Junior High School will be the new site for the district’s Montessori school and other district operations that are now located in the Central Learning Center. This change most likely means that there will be a significant shake-up with the principal and assistant principal placement for the 2017-18 school year.

Through the strategic planning process, action teams were formed to update the current strategic plan. One of the three action teams focused on the staff and student transition regarding the first official year of a 7-8 building and a 9-12 building.

Through discussions with all principals and assistant principals, a new administrative placement plan is currently being developed. It was scheduled to be discussed and approved at the June 1 School Board meeting, but it was decided that a decision of such magnitude required more discussion time. The issue was tabled and is expected to be on the agenda for the June 15 meeting.