I went to Vincent Elementary School and Vincent Middle/High School. For a long time I thought that I had a pretty normal public education. For the most part, I enjoyed school because I enjoyed learning. It wasn’t until I went to college that I realized that my small town Alabama education, particularly the schedule, was a radical departure from the traditional academia. The Vincent school system, somewhat isolated from the rest of Shelby County, was chosen to operate on an experimental “Year-Round” schedule. I think that parents voted to try the schedule. In short, we attended school nine weeks at a time. After each nine weeks, we got a three week break, and a slightly longer seven week summer break. The year round schedule went into effect when I entered kindergarten in 1992 and concluded after I graduated in 2005.
I’m sure that qualified individuals conducted studies on the effectiveness of this schedule- I recall there being evidence of higher test scores- and you can probably can read about it in some moldy academic journal if you know where to find it. Just keep in mind that it was probably written by someone who never actually experienced year-round school as a student, which unfortunately, is a severe blow to their credibility. As someone who attended year round school until college, I realize that I am biased, but I am strongly for year-round school. Perhaps I like it because it’s all I’ve ever known, but what is not to like? I recall pretty clearly that schedule was popular with the faculty.
So why did Vincent stop doing year round school? I’ve always theorized that it was due to an out of sync athletic schedule. This was the only complaint that I remember hearing about year-round school. This is only partly true, the real reason that Vincent was taken off of year-round school was because Vincent was different.
Here is an excerpt from a Gadsden Times article titled Vincent fights to keep year-round school schedule from January 30, 2005.
Amy Martin, a teacher and parent at Vincent schools, said the year-round schedule works and doesn’t need to be changed.
“If you insist on everybody being on the same calendar, fine,” she told the Shelby County school board. “Put them on our calendar.”
All other Shelby County schools are on a traditional schedule and Vincent should join them, says School Superintendent Evan Major. But the county school board on Thursday night opposed Major’s recommendation. The board tabled the issue until two separate calendars can be drafted for consideration.
Major wanted one calendar for all schools because two separate calendars is inconvenient, he said. Major said he’s not disappointed in the board’s decision.
“We have a system and that system works,” he said.
Eventually, School Superintendent Evan Major got his wish, and today Vincent is on the same schedule as the rest of Shelby County. This makes me wonder how much progress has been halted in the name of convenience?