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Schedule Mastermind

MAXINE MARCUS
STAFF WRITER

   At the beginning of each semester, students await their new schedules, hoping for classes with friends and free periods at the right time. Who is behind the long and tedious process of making all our schedules? Pinewood’s very own principal Mark Gardner, who takes time out of his busy life to make schedules for the entire school.

   Gardner explained how he tackles such a difficult and time-consuming task.

   “I tried several computer programs, and they would come up with 90 to 95 percent of the students getting all of their classes. I want a higher percentage in fact for the core classes. I want 100 percent. I found that after the computer programs gave me their outcome, I ended up changing so much and moving so much around that I may as well have started out on my own in the first place,” Gardner said.

   To begin making the schedules, Gardner first figures out who is recommended for what classes and what electives the student wants to take. Based on the information for each individual, Gardner has a list of all the classes each student needs to take to graduate, and which classes they want to take. By plugging all of this information into an Excel spreadsheet, Gardner arranges a student’s classes by trial and error using all of the information that he has previously gathered on what classes they must take and what classes they want to take.

   As one could guess, this is not an easy task. The hardest part of the whole job is when there is a student or two with a conflict that pops up after almost all the schedules are already made. As a result, Gardner is forced to change many of the schedules that he has already worked on and put effort into. Usually, the classes that are hardest to fit into schedules are the classes that last only one semester, making them difficult to accommodate. Another difficult scenario is when a student takes one course that is very high level and another that is lower level.

   “I have one subject which is only taught once, has a lot of students taking it, has students from 9th to 12th grade in the class, and can only be taken in one particular room. That is the hardest class for making a schedule,” Gardner said.

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