Compass Days give students added flexibility


Jonny Clubb

Students are asked to follow the 3OTs on Compass Days.

Owatonna High School is beginning the 2021-22 school year with a new modified schedule option, Compass Days. The new schedule will be used on two or three Wednesdays per month beginning on September 8. On Compass Days, first hour will begin at 8:30 and fourth hour will end at 1:05. The modified schedule will give students flexibility to choose from a variety of options from 8:00-8:30 and 1:05-2:40. These options will include taking part in clubs, getting help from teachers and having the opportunity to leave campus.

This new schedule will combine two pieces of OHS programs into one. OHS has always had an academic adviser for each student; however, the name of the program has changed over time. Most recently, Tuesday Morning Meeting (TMM) became Compass last year. The added flexible time in the afternoon may remind seniors of Academic Support days from a few years ago. This year the goal of Compass Days is to give students flexible time to meet with a teacher, join a club or choose from a variety of other options.

On Compass Days there will be many new things for students to adjust to while some things will remain the same. Bussing schedules will remain the same, as well as students’ obligation to attend all their classes just for a shortened time. Each block will run for 50 minutes with five minutes of passing time between them. Compass Days will also include a Compass period which is a 25 minute period between second and third hour with students’ old TMM groups. Another difference is that lunch will run during fourth hour in three sections instead of four. Students will find out their lunch from their fourth hour teacher.

The idea of Compass Days came together from a number of different discussions. OHS Principal Mr. Kory Kath said,“At the end of last year we did some student feedback sessions just to try and gather some feedback from students about what worked well during the pandemic. One thing that kept coming forward that was working well was some flexibility within a day, and it ended up being that they were talking about Wednesdays. A lot of students would come in and they would then have the opportunity to meet with a teacher, make up a test, or meet as a group.” That discussion paired with the district’s discussion on redesigning the strategic roadmap helped lead to Compass Days implementation. Principal Kath said,“They (the district) had feedback from families, parents and community members, and  some of what came forward again was having choice and flexibility at a greater level.” Using this information OHS administrators were able to design the new Compass Days.

The flexible afternoon time slot will have many different options, and each student will use that time differently. Senior Addison Andrix said,“I will take advantage of that afternoon session to go and get extra help with stuff if I need it.” Apart from academics, clubs will meet, there is the possibility of an open gym time and college and career connections will be made available to all students. NHS adviser Gail Tratz said,“We (NHS) probably will still continue to have our large group meetings outside the school day, but maybe our committees will meet during this time.”

College and career connections will include many different opportunities which will be advertised in the Compass newsletter so students know what is available. Principal Kath said,“It’s going to be a little bit more focused on what we are doing in Compass that day. If we’re talking about resumes we might invite in three or four professionals from our community that can help students with their resumes.” There will also be speakers along the lines of the Made in Owatonna Days last year.

Compass days can be used in a variety of ways, but the goal is flexibility. The half hour in the morning and 95 minutes in the afternoon will help OHS students and staff accomplish that goal. Principal Kath said,“My favorite part of all this is truly that we’re respecting students’ time. This is absolutely about students being able to design how they want their day to look, and if it goes really well, and we start to see our clubs and activities grow, and we see more and more students joining clubs and activities. If we see students connecting with teachers intervening when you’re connecting with them about making up a lab or coming in and getting support in some way. We know that it’s working.” The first Compass Days is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 8.