Shining a spotlight on block zeros


By: Sara Attia, Reporter

Colonia High School recently introduced a new course, AP Capstone Research, which is offer at a new time. Block Zero courses go from 7:00 A.M. in the morning to 7:40 A.M. every day for the school year which is before the regular school day begins.

The normal school day at Colonia High runs from 7:50 A.M. to 2:30 P.M. and includes four blocks per day. Block Zero classes require students to get up earlier. Student would also end up having nine classes instead of eight and a heavier workload. Students may feel discouraged, but there are benefits to taking a block zero class. Students might have classes they want to take, but cannot right now due to needing to fill requirements or having other responsibilities. A Block Zero class is helpful in that situation. Students can fit more classes into their schedule during a limited school day. The student’s eight highest classes are counted, while their lowest class is dropped. This would result in a boost in students’ GPA and rank. It drops less heavily weighted subjects that are required, like physical education.

Students may ask what a Block Zero class entails. Is it the same structure as a regular class? Is it graded differently? Unlike most classes, students would be taking the class every day for a full year. This is because the class is only 40 minutes a day, not the full hour and a half for other blocks. AP Capstone Research is the only Block Zero course right now, taught by Mr. Hutchinson. Because it is an AP class, and the student would still be getting the same five credits, the grading requirements are the same. Grading still has a 75/25 split- 75% major assessments, 25% minor assessments. There are still tests, homework, and quizzes, just like any other class.

This is a research-based course, and according to The College Board, AP Research students explore “skill development, document their processes, and curate… their scholarly work in a portfolio. The course culminates in an academic paper of 4000-5000 words… and a presentation with an oral defense,” which is different from many other AP classes, as this class is more of an independent study.

A big question regarding Block Zero is how to sign up for them. Colonia High’s guidance counselors recommend going directly to them. In February, students sign up for next years classes. It is then that they should tell their guidance counselor that they want to take a Block Zero class. Right now, AP Capstone Research has nine students. Ms. Galvin, guidance counselor, “hopes to have more students enrolled.” The school hopes to expand their course options, but this is Colonia High School’s first year with a Block Zero course, the reason for such narrow options. Other schools have been doing this program successfully for years. Both Woodbridge High School and John F. Kennedy High School have this program and have reported it to be a success.

Roselle Park High School, a school outside of Woodbridge Township School,  also offers classes before the traditional school day begins. They call these classes Zero Period. Currently Roselle Park High School offers the following Zero Period courses: STEM Explorations, Accelerated Physics, Biochemistry and RPTV, the morning TV program.

Will Woodbridge Township add more courses to its budding Block Zero Program and will CHS students enroll is yet to be seen.