The Wheel Keeps On Turning

Sixth-grade wheel class goes back to normal after tumultuous first quarter


Maria Golucki, a sixth-grade student in Ms. McAllister’s art class, puts the last finishing touches on her piece for display in the third quarter Wheel Performance.

COVID-19 protocols, combined with a large sixth-grade class, led to changes in the F-period rotation schedule which has traditionally been used for the wheel class.  The sixth-grade wheel program revolves around four fine arts classes; music, drama, dance, and visual art. At the end of each term, there is traditionally a culminating quarterly performance where the sixth graders display what they have learned on stage in the BPAC for family and friends. 

However, this year, in order to keep the wheel class sizes less than 21 people to allow for social distancing, subjects including digital tools, coding, speech, and library were added to the wheel program for the first semester. 

Some students enjoyed these new classes and appreciated the opportunity to explore new interests.

“I really liked having speech because we got to make presentations, and I really like writing in general,” said sixth-grader Isabella Anthon.

“I enjoyed coding a lot,” added fellow sixth-grader Alex Simonet. “Code Monkey and [the] spheros were lots of fun.” 

However, others found the F-period rotation to be confusing. 

“I remember when I couldn’t really tell whether I was going to go to coding or library,” said sixth-grade student Graham Olbers. “For the F-period rotation, we would go to [our] wheel [classes] two times a week. The other two days were either coding, library, speech, or digital tools, and it was really hard to tell which classes you were supposed to go to the other two days because there were so many different combinations for all of the classes.” 

“The F-period rotation was really confusing to get used to because of all of the different classes,” said sixth-grader Mason Coles. “I would go to one class and then end up having to go to another because I was in the wrong place, and sometimes I would even be late,” said Coles. 

With the four new classes being added to the F-period rotation, the wheel teachers were seeing their students less than in years past. 

“We really missed seeing the wheel students four days per week because we ended up only seeing the students seven to eight times per quarter,” said Middle School Fine Arts Department Chair Nancy McAllister.  “It was really difficult for all of the wheel teachers to prepare the students for the wheel performance because we didn’t have much time with them.”

Courtesy of Evan Sluiters
Ms. Ramirez’ sixth grade students practice their dance number for the quarter three Wheel Performance during F-period.

The wheel teachers are not the only ones who had to adjust their lesson plans for F-period.

“Teaching Digital Tools was different in the sense that in years past I would see the sixth graders not during their wheel class, but during their band and PE classes during D and E periods. Because D and E Periods are split, I would get to see all of the sixth graders in one week. However, the way it was set with the first-semester rotation, I wouldn’t get through the entire sixth grade for two weeks. So I had to shorten my semester curriculum because I saw the entire sixth grade over two weeks instead of one.” 

As a result of these issues, at the start of the second semester, the F-period rotation was changed back to last year’s schedule to reduce confusion and complexity. The four additional classes were taken out of the schedule and now the rotation consists of only the four main wheel classes; art, dance, music, and drama. According to Mr. Crisafi, space had to be made in the various rooms to accommodate the COVID-19 protocols. For example, there was a drum set that was moved out of Mr. Winters’ room, two more tables were moved into Ms. McAllister’s room, and Mrs. Ramirez placed some of her students in the room adjacent to the dance studio. 

Sixth-grade students are enjoying the simpler format, which is how their F period was originally designed.

“I like this rotation a lot better because we have way more time with our wheel teachers,” said Coles. “I did really like having coding, digital tools, speech, and the library a lot, but I would much rather spend more time with my wheel teachers because you only get one quarter with each class. I feel like with this schedule, I have more time to experience each wheel class and decide if I would like to take one of them

Courtesy of Chase Zur
Sixth-grade student, Brody Riback, continues to learn new notes for the guitar, in Mr. Winter’s music class.

next year as my elective,” he said.  

Teachers like the second-semester rotation as well. 

“I love seeing the students four times a week again because now we can teach and expose the students to more material each quarter,” said McAllister. 

However, some miss the extra classes like coding or library. 

“Coding has been one of my favorite classes that I have taken this year, and I am really sad that it is no longer in the schedule for the second semester,” said Simonet. “I loved experimenting with different styles of code because I was able to learn a lot while still having fun,” he said.

Like the last couple of years, both F-period rotation schedules have been uncertain and had their pros and cons. The four mini electives that were added to the first-semester rotation taught the sixth graders new skills in a fun, interactive way, but those classes also made the rotation a lot more complicated and difficult to follow. 

“The F-period rotation will most likely go back to normal next year if we are, hopefully, out of the COVID protocols,” said Crisafi. “Mr. Hagy would also like to add more electives for our middle school students so they have a wider variety of opportunities and interests to explore.”