FARMINGTON — Students and teachers at both of Farmington’s high schools are adjusting to a new seven-period school day, which they say has both positive and negative aspects.

Starting this school year, Farmington and Piedra Vista high schools added another class period to their schedules, moving from six classes per day to seven. Classes are now 52 minutes, rather than an hour. School also ends 15 minutes later than last year, with the final class letting out at 3:15 p.m.

The idea for the change was discussed during a Farmington Municipal School board of education work session on Jan. 10.

Piedra Vista Principal Ann Gattis and Farmington High Principal Tim Kienitz both said the seven-class schedule would provide students more opportunities for credit recovery and more flexibility in selecting elective courses. Students from both schools said the new schedule has advantages and disadvantages when it comes to homework, electives and class work.

Darian Johnson, a senior at Piedra Vista, said she is thankful for the schedule change. Without it, she would have been one credit short of graduating this spring, she said.

“It’s nice to have the seventh (period). It actually saved me from not being able to graduate on time,” she said. “Because I if had the sixth hour (schedule), I wouldn’t have enough credits to graduate.”

Johnson said she was able to work as a guidance aide and fulfill her final credit. She is currently taking junior and senior classes in math, science and history to graduate on time.

Farmington High senior Dani Robbins said she was able to take the lifetime sports class this year, which she was not able to take her junior year.

Fine arts teacher Courtney Hewett helps student Monisha Mayes on her piece during Ceramics 1 class on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, at Piedra Vista High
Fine arts teacher Courtney Hewett helps student Monisha Mayes on her piece during Ceramics 1 class on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, at Piedra Vista High School. (Augusta Liddic The Daily Times)

Advanced placement Spanish and student senate classes filled up her elective time last year, she said.

“It would have made my life a lot easier. I would have had another area for a class,” Robbins said.

Seated at a table of friends during lunchtime at Piedra Vista, sophomore Eber Mendez said the new schedule allowed him to take another year of guitar class. But he was concerned about the availability of popular elective courses. “I think the opportunity you get is less since more people are wanting to take certain classes,” Mendez said. “So I think there is less opportunity to get what you want.”

While working on her project in Courtney Hewett’s Ceramics 1 class at Piedra Vista, sophomore Juli Shuttleworth said the extra 15 minutes each day makes the school day seem longer, and the new schedule has added to her homework load.

“Sometimes, I have a big project I have to get done,” Shuttleworth said. “I have to get it done, and I don’t have the time to get it done. I have other classes I have to do. It just sucks.”

Hewett, a fine arts teacher who teaches ceramics classes, said having seven classes a day forces her to work faster to prepare for classes and to keep up with paperwork.

“It’s more students, so I worry about having enough clay,” Hewett said. “I’m always stressed if we are going to have enough clay and if the student fees will pay for clay all through the year.”

Farmington High history teacher Richard Wallace said the first couple of weeks with the new schedule were challenging, but he is now accustomed to it. He estimated that he is teaching the same number of students as last year, though class sizes are smaller this year.

“The benefit of having a smaller class is you can get more done because you have less kids in there,” he said. “You can teach more things. You can spend more time with kids individually.”

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.