Students discuss year-round school

WARREN – For many students, a longer school year is not something they want, but 33 fifth graders at JFK Lower Campus in Warren gave many pros and cons for changing the current school year length.

Students in Diana Muccio’s and Diane Oswald’s fifth grades had a chance to send their comments for and against year-round schools to Dr. Nicholas Wolsonovich, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Youngstown, who responded to them in person with a recent visit.

Muccio said the students’ project involved writing their own letters expressing their opinions about whether to extend the school year or school day.

“Both fifth grades read a Time magazine article on school years, and student did research before giving their opinions and reasons in their own letters,” she said.

Wolsonovich told the students he read each letter but decided since he could not respond to each student individually he would come to the school and speak directly to the entire fifth grade.

He said the topic was one on which he has done much research and discussion.

The results showed 18 students in favor of the longer school year and 15 against extending the school year.

Wolsonovich said the students used their communications skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening as part of the activity.

“The letters show me that you are 21st century learners using and applying skills you have learned in school,” he said.

Fifth-grader Dominic Dutton said he has heard that student test scores throughout the United States, especially in math and science, are lower compared to other countries throughout the world, and this should mean more time is needed in the school year.

Responses from students included wanting longer summers to have more time to play.

Wolsonovich said year-round education goes through most of the year except July. The average student worldwide attends school 200 days a year. The United States is at 180 days and Japan is 240 days, he said.

He said the 180 days started during the time of the agrarian calendar, when children helped from June to September on the farm.

What has been discussed is having a longer school year with two-week breaks throughout the year, or lengthening the school day to 4 p.m.

Muccio said both classes were very dedicated to the lesson.