ONTARIO — The first day of the trimester system with the Ontario School District has come and gone, and for Ontario High School, which has seen the most changes, it has been a smooth transition so far.

Ontario School Board OK’d switching to trimesters when it approved a new academic calendar a few months ago.

The decision from the board came after extensive research from school district personnel including Nathan Sandberg, who works as assistant principal at Ontario High School, along with instructional coach Ken Martinez, who visited four schools in Eugene in April 2017 to observe the implementation of a trimester system in schools like Molalla, Cascade and North Marion.

For Ontario High School, to let its parents and families know, the school hosted informational sessions in the spring designed to provide answers on what the year would look like.

According to Jodi Elizondo, principal of the high school, the first day under the system “was awesome.”

“It went smoothly,” she said. “All the students were understanding of where they needed to be.”

Students picked up their schedules before school began Friday morning.

What also went smoothly was the new Freshman Academy. The Freshman Academy is based on a cohort model of learning for the freshman class; classes move together.

Half of the freshman class spends three consecutive class periods in the morning; in the same two-period block, sophomores, juniors and seniors will attend science, English language arts and math, one class period each. The second half of the freshman class does the same during the last three periods of the class. One teacher teaches each subject.

Ontario High School, along with the Ontario School District now has a 12-week per trimester system, a structure that the entire school district will be following, with three grading periods.

The first trimester is scheduled to end Nov. 16. For the remainder of the 2018-19 school year, the second trimester will be from Nov. 26 to Feb. 28; and the third trimester will start March 4 and will wrap up on May 30.

Also new this year is mixed grade level lunches, a new lunch system that doesn’t separate lunches by grade — what Ontario High School used last year, Elizondo said.

The CHAMP program, in which students are notified every Wednesday on the happenings within the high school, has come back, though on Friday every period received an informational video. That will return to its original schedule of once a week, every Wednesday, Elizondo said.

The high school is also looking to use of Chromebooks to facilitate more digital learning.

“We have a phenomenal teaching staff, and we’re looking forward to the potential of the trimester system, and the Chromebooks,” Elizondo said.

Hunter Marrow is a news reporter at The Argus Observer. He can be reached at (541) 823-4822 or by emailing hunterm@argusobserver.com. To comment on this story, go to www.argusobserver.com.

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