Sunnyside High school students will have shorter school days next year

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- Students at Sunnyside High School won't be in class as long next fall. The school day will be shorter because a three-million dollar grant from the No Child Left Behind Act ran out.

It'll be a later start and an earlier end to the school day. Sunnyside High School's current eight-hour day will fall back to seven.

Senior Daniel Diaz said that extra hour has helped him.

"I was able to take more of the classes that I wanted to take and not have to miss out on some of the AP classes," said Diaz.

Jackie Garcia didn't have that extra hour her freshman year. The senior said it helped her get ahead and worries the change could hurt students who come after her.

"You don't have as much time to build a connection with your teachers," said Garcia. "They're not there as long to help you or you don't have as much time to do your work."

When the school applied for the federal grant back in 2008, their graduation rate was 49 percent. They were considered to be in the bottom 5 percent of underperforming schools. But just last year that graduation rate jumped up to 80 percent.

Sunnyside High School Principal Ryan Maxwell said the grant made it easier for teachers to collaborate on lesson plans and work with students who are having trouble in class. But, the school doesn't plan to lose this system after losing the grant. Teachers came up with a way to keep them in place with less class time.

"It's going to encourage staff to better define what they should be teaching in classes, to define this is not a standard," said Maxwell. "This is something maybe we don't need to teach."

A lesson learned to make sure that shorter hours don't leave students like Daniel short on their education.

Sunnyside High school will maintain its trimester system so students can take up to 15 classes a school year.