By Becky Koppenhaver
John Marshall High School, which serves students from Echo Park, Silver Lake and Atwater Village, will return to a traditional calendar school year for the first time in 16 years. The Los Feliz high school, which has seen its student population grow to more than 4,500 students in the past decade, has been on a year-round, multi-track calendar in order to accommodate its burgeoning student population. But thanks to the opening of a new high school, Marshall High’s student population will drop by about half when classes resume Sept. 7 for the entire student body.
“This will make us one big family again, as opposed to a fragmented one,” said Assistant Principal of Counseling Gerald Devries. “It will also make communication on campus as a whole, much easier.”
The return to the traditional calendar will give students 10 consecutive weeks off during between June and August. In comparison, the multi-track system includes two separate, four-week breaks between semesters.
The newly built Sonia Sotomayor High School on San Fernando Road in Glassell Park will alleviate over-crowding at Marshall High School and other nearby campuses by redistricting approximately 2,700 students to the new school, allowing the return to the traditional calendar year at Marshall.
The Marshall High School campus, built in 1931, consists of eight small learning communities, a magnet school, a gifted magnet school, and an advanced studies program. The school has added numerous temporary bungalows to accommodate the growing student population.
Assistant Principal Devries, who has been at Marshall High for over 30 years, says that he believes the switch back to the traditional schedule will overall benefit students and parents because Marshall is the only school in the area that is on a multi-track schedule. The high school’s feeder middle and elementary schools are on traditional calendars, meaning parents with kids in different schools have different schedules to juggle throughout the year.
Devries also believes that the staff and administration are generally excited about having summer months off.
The only possible negative impact Devries can foresee with the switch is the lessened opportunity for students to make up needed credits. Summer school will now be offered during the break. But on the multi-track schedule, students had not just one but two opportunities to make up credits in what is referred to as Intersession.
As for the students, Devries believes they will all react positively to the new 8:00 a.m. class start time – instead of 7:15 a.m. – that the switch will bring in the next school year. The school day will still end at 3:15 p.m.
Maria M., who will be a sophomore at Marshall next year, says she doesn’t really care one way or another about the school’s calendar change, but she smiles when asked about a later class start time: “At least now I can be awake for my first class.”
Becky Koppenhaver is a freelance writer covering schools. You can send Becky story tips and ideas at becky@theEastsiderLA.com