Advisory built into schedule

Administration uses new classes to get back instructional minutes after state time change


Reyna Plascencia

Economics teacher Nicholas Colin helps senior Austin Felix with his homework during his Advisory period on Oct. 19.

Students at Sanger High are experiencing a new period in the schedule broken into two classes during block days called Advisory on Wednesdays and Character Strong on Thursdays.
Deputy Principal Marcos Mireles, who taught for five years at Sanger High School before becoming an administrator, said the new schedule originally came about due to California Senate Bill 328, which required high schools to start school no earlier than 8:30 a.m. beginning with the 2022-23 school year.
“The state has a minimum amount of instructional minutes each school must meet,” said Mireles, “due to the fact school would now be starting 30 minutes later we needed to re-evaluate our current systems to where we could get this time back.”
Unlike Tutorial from the 2021-22 school year, Advisory is built into the school day. Changing the schedule meant many of the systems already in place, like Tutorial and Late Start, would no longer be available.
“Tutorial did not account for instructional minutes as it was before the school day and was not mandatory,” said Mireles. “In fact, less than 15% of students actually utilized morning tutorial.”
Mireles explained why Advisory was slotted into the time before lunch to allow for early lunch release rewards and PBIS competitions. This would also give 4th period teachers their instructional time uninterrupted, according to Mireles.
Advisory and Character Strong are built into the school day and all students are required to attend so the school is able to get those minutes back since 100% of students are attending (unless they are out sick of course), according to Mireles.
Mireles mentioned there will be advantages from advisory for students and teachers.
“Advisory will benefit students in many ways as students have a dedicated block of time to catch up on missing assignments, get ahead on homework,” he said.
Thursday’s Character Strong meeting time is designed to teach self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making, according to Mireles and it is here to stay.
“Sanger High School purchased the curriculum, which will be a permanent addition,” he said. It is         “Character education that involves developing thoughtful, healthy and kind human beings.”
On the flip side, junior Janessa Ramirez said some students don’t like getting personal at school.
“I get the idea behind the Character Strong, but in my class some people don’t like to open up and only five or less get into it and open up,” said Ramirez.
English teacher Molly Krum has been at Sanger High for 18 years. She believes that Advisory can help build relationships and help stay on top of their workloads.
“Advisory will give students more opportunities to be successful in meeting deadlines,” said Krum, “studying and just staying on top of their workload of school.”
Krum added that as far as Character Strong is concerned, the program promotes creating more of a connection between the student population on campus.
Krum maintains the idea that building and fostering those connections between students and staff is always valuable.
Students did not choose their Advisory/Character Strong teachers and they are currently not allowed to move to other classes to work on assignments during the allowed time which is about 45 minutes before lunch. In fact, no one is permitted out of class during Advisory/Character Strong, not even to use the restroom.
“All students were randomly assigned to one of their current teachers in their existing schedule by grade level,” said Mireles.
On the other hand, senior Rayne Saucedo feels like the 30 minutes in Advisory are wasted.
“Because of Advisory’s placement [in the day] it feels unnecessary to have to go to a separate class for 30 minutes rather than staying in 4th or just going to lunch,” said Saucedo.
Elizabeth Alfving has been teaching English at Sanger High for eight years. She describes Advisory as “great” and that Character Strong is “an opportunity for students to reflect on their own experiences/values.”
She reflected on how it is working in her classroom.
“My Advisory group is great,” said Alfving. “I think you get out of it what you put in; I’ll be the first to admit that the videos are cheesy, but I’ve already had the opportunity to learn things about my students that I probably would never have learned without it.”
She recommended that students go into Advisory and Character Strong with a good attitude.
“You have to do it anyway, might as well get something out of it,” she said.
Economics teacher Nicholas Colin, who has been teaching for six years, said Advisory gives students a chance to get to know each other and collaborate on their thoughts.
“I think it gives students a chance to get to know each other and share their unique experiences and opinions on important topics in and out of the classroom,” said Colin. But, he adds, some students enjoy it and others don’t.
He explained while it is beneficial to have time for students to catch up on missing assignments, it does not help those who need to make up missing assessments in other classes.
“If students participate [in Character Strong lessons] and are willing to share their perspectives, I believe it can be beneficial for us to learn more about each other,” said Colin.
However Jolee Gutierrez, a senior, said the Advisory time should be used for a more academic class and not social emotional learning.
“I think Advisory is a waste of time because we do nothing and that time could be used more efficiently,” said Gutierrez.
Mireles added that the goal and purpose of the programs is to build student accountability through self-reflection and individual goal setting, establishing relationships and stronger connections between students and teachers, while also increasing overall well-being through SEL lessons/activities.
Mireles emphasized how students should and will find advantages from Character Strong.
“Every student can benefit from character education and being kind human beings,” said Mireles, “after all, we are an Apache family with the motto of ‘Always with Pride.’”
Mireles believes both programs will also benefit students and teachers by building “stronger relationships with their teachers and peers, and self-reflect and set individual academic goals for themselves.”