Admin clarifies new PRIME system

Brennen Ho, Senior Staff Writer

Students attend physics teacher Cecilia Walsh’s PRIME period, which is a time for students to work individually or get personalized help from their teachers. At the start of the week, students can choose which PRIME period they would like to attend on Wednesday. According to junior Kylie Tzeng, the new scheduling system for PRIME is confusing and rushed. “Scheduling is kind of stressful,” Tzeng said. “The first time I needed to schedule, everyone was rushing to do it and classes filled really quickly.” (Photo: Anushe Irani)

After returning in-person, Palo Alto High School students have experienced confusion around the new PRIME system, leading school administrators to consider possible changes. The Paly Voice sat down with assistant principal Erik Olah to discuss changes he hopes to make to the PRIME system in the coming weeks.

Currently, students are required to sign up for a PRIME teacher two days before the period occurs. This created a hassle for some students, who say they want greater flexibility in scheduling PRIME.

“Having to sign up for PRIME on Mondays is really useless,” junior Gopala Varadarajan said. “A lot of the time, I don’t know which class I’ll have the most homework in or what questions I’ll have.”

According to Olah, the deadline for signing up for a PRIME period is dependent on the number of students who register. The more students who forget to register before the deadline, the earlier the deadline must be.

“Right now, we need to get students in the habit of doing it [signing up for PRIME],” Olah said. “And if more of them can do it quicker, we’ll push it [the deadline for PRIME signups] out a little further.”

Olah mentioned that 550 students failed to register for PRIME before the deadline during the first PRIME period, and they all needed to be manually assigned to PRIME periods by administrators in a time-consuming process.

However, Olah said the PRIME sign-up deadline could be negotiated if more students registered themselves for PRIME before the deadline.

“Tuesday night’s going to be the latest possible time,” Olah said. “I could do Tuesday at 10 p.m. since we need time to hand schedule all those people on Wednesday.”

Junior Kylie Tzeng expressed a desire for multiple PRIME periods per week, similar to previous tutorial periods. In past years, “Tutorial” functioned much the same as the current PRIME system.

“I liked freshman year because it [Tutorial] happened more than once,” Tzeng said. “It was bi-weekly or tri-weekly, and that was helpful because I could go visit multiple teachers.”

While Olah recognized that students expressed interest in multiple PRIME periods per week, he said that adding an extra period would extend students’ schedules even later than they currently are. He did, however, mention that students were allowed to attend multiple teachers’ PRIME during the same period if given a pass by their teacher.

“Say you’re with your math teacher,” Olah said. “You can say: ‘Can I go real quick to my science teacher to do XYZ.’ They can write a pass, and then you can go there, but you just need to make sure you come back.”

As with many aspects of the return to in-person school, Olah reminded students to be patient and flexible with the PRIME process.

“This is like a new thing for all of us, and just know that there are small improvements made all the time,” Olah said. “So give us flexibility — give us time to really get this thing down.”