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The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

2023-2024 school year brings more zero period options

Asaph Li
Dance Production members perform to’s “Bang Bang” during the Friday, Sept. 29, homecoming assembly in the gym. Starting this school year, the team practices during zero period instead of sixth period after dance teacher Leiana Volen assumed the role of Conservatory of Fine Arts co-director.

School officials added six more zero period classes this school year compared to the previous one with some of the increase coming from three more academic classes, two sports teams and Dance Production [DP].

The academic classes include Advanced Placement [AP] Psychology, AP U.S. Government and AP Environmental Science, while the sports are boys and girls golf and boys basketball.

The latter sport moved to zero period, which starts at 7:27 a.m., because facilities for practice like the gym and weight room were often not available for use during sixth period, boys basketball coach Joe Ok said.

“It’s always been a sixth period sport, and so during volleyball season we would practice outside a lot,” Ok said. “But for our lower levels especially, I think it’s important for us to be in the gym as much as we can and also be in the weight room when we want to be in there instead of super late at night.”

Sophomore Micah Cowell, a junior varsity basketball player who played for frosh/soph last school year, said he appreciates the change.

“It helps us get the things we need done finished in the mornings instead of after school,” Cowell said. “It also enables us to leave school early to get out personal needs assorted since we don’t [need a sixth period].”

Additionally, the sophomore said he sees value in getting up early in the morning.

“It also helps us manage our time better because of the early morning schedule,” he said. “We need to go to bed early and wake up early to be in the best shape we can.”

Similarly, boys and girls golf coach Scott Enrico said he moved the sport from sixth to zero period so he could have the flexibility to leave campus after fourth period to travel to whichever course the team would play on that day.

“We are the only sport that does not have its own facility on campus; we have to travel to each match,” Enrico said. “If I had sixth period golf, I wouldn’t be able to get to my matches on time; therefore, there would be no one to coach and supervise the players at matches.”

Girls golfer senior Lauren Lee said once she adjusted to the change, she preferred it over having the sport as her sixth period.

“In the beginning, it was so tiring because I used to be able to wake up later, but I got used to it pretty quick, so it feels pretty normal,” Lee said. “I don’t think it’s a bad change to the schedules because I’m a senior, and it lets me leave school at fourth period.”


Among other scheduling changes, DP moved from sixth to zero period after dance teacher Leiana Volen stepped up to the position of Conservatory of Fine Arts co-director.

“The reality is that a lot of the meetings and a lot of the things that we would have to do as co-directors require after-school availability,” she said. “Right now with Dance Production, we do a lot of things after school, so my availability after school wouldn’t be conducive to me being able to be co-director with Miss [Preetha] Mathen.”

Volen said she informed DP students of a potential change before tryouts last school year, and the dancers had no problems taking a zero period class.

Most DP members like junior Dalila Sprague said they enjoyed the change despite having to wake up earlier.

“It’s definitely a lot harder to be up and awake and ready to do all the things we do that early in the morning, but I enjoy the free sixth [period] a lot so it makes up for it,” the third-year DP member said. “I like it better than staying after.”

The team holds after-school rehearsals for events around one time a week compared to the former two to three times, but the total time practiced still totals about seven hours a week, Volen said.

Volen said the adjustment to her teaching schedule has also benefited her home life.

“I’m waking up earlier and getting to work earlier, but I have a 2-year-old at home, so I love that I get to have more afternoon time with him because I was here so late [in past years],” she said. “It’s just like anything; you get used to it, and it’s just a new schedule to get comfortable with.”


After its absence since 2018, school officials decided to reinstitute the Link Crew class for the 2023-2024 school year.

Originally created in 2017, the elective was axed the next school year because not enough students had room in their schedule to take it, Link Crew teacher and adviser Lindsay Safe said.

Since then, the class never reappeared on the master schedule until this year when enough Link Crew members who wanted to join could fit it into their school day. 

“Forty-something kids wanted to be in it, and so I just really pushed for it,” Safe said. “We’ve always tried, and this year it just happened to work out.”

Safe said she made members aware of the course through the Link Crew application, which featured a question regarding potential interest in a class dedicated to the program.

The third period class, which focuses on planning events for freshmen, contains 30 juniors and seniors of the 104 in Link Crew.

“Having a class allows me to take 30-40 kids that become the main people,” Safe said. “They’ll be my crew that helps me to plan all those events and execute those events while keeping connected with all the other leaders that cannot be in the class.”

Advancement Via Individual Determination and yearbook adviser Lindsay Safe (right) explains to her third period Link Crew class Wednesday, Sept. 13, in Room 62 how to plan and evaluate projects. The elective returned to the school’s master schedule this school year after it was first introduced as a class in 2017 when Link Crew was first formed at Sunny Hills. (Photo by Sue Kang)

People in Link Crew could join if they wanted, but for many, the class still did not fit into their schedules.

Second-year Link Crew member senior Max Soto said he enjoys being in this class.

“It is a good amount of work, I’m not going to lie, but honestly, I’m liking it,” Soto said. “I think it’s really nice because it allows for better focus overall on our goal as a class.”

Senior Bella Castaneda said she likes the class because of its collaborative component.

“What I like most about the class is getting to work with people I would’ve never talked to before,” Castaneda said. “I also get to work with other creative thinkers, and we can bounce ideas off of each other.” 

With a period now dedicated to planning, Link Crew aims to organize more activities this year.

“I want to make sure that we really do good by the school and create more events for freshmen, create more academic follow-ups for freshmen, appreciate and recognize the freshman class more and do whatever we can to support them,” Safe said. “Now that I know more and have experienced more of the program, there’s so much more that I want to do.”

Additionally, the Link Crew adviser said she hopes to teach those in the class about leadership skills.

“[Leadership is] a skill that can be taught, so there’s going to be a lot more about that, learning what empathy is, learning how to really fundraise, learning how to market your program,” Safe said. “I hope the kids learn something, and we do a good job for the school.”

Link Crew members not in the third period still participate in planning events through communication outside the classroom.

“[Students] in the class are in charge of communicating with Link Crew leaders outside the class, making sure that they are checking in on their freshmen, they know what events are happening, things like that.” Safe said. “They have a log that they are keeping that shows … their intention for contact, any results or notes or anything that they need to know and feedback for projects and stuff like that.”


In past years, Sunny Hills athletes could leave campus if they had no practice during their sixth period sport.

However, that changed this year, and the school now bans leaving campus during any scheduled period.

Assistant principal Peter Karavedas said the change occurred because the district requires schools to monitor students as long as they are in a scheduled period.

“Even if a student has practice later that night, we are still liable for the students up until 3:30 p.m.,” Karavedas said.

The administration also made the change in keeping with the district’s emphasis on school safety and because students were getting PE credits when they weren’t doing athletic activity during the period, he said, adding that the period without practice has become a study hall, and coaches are required to take attendance and monitor athletes to ensure nobody leaves. 

Boys tennis player senior Nevin McCann dislikes the change because it takes away from his time doing other things.

“It’s not like we’re missing anything if we leave,” McCann said. “I don’t like it just because I have a life as well, so I have things I have to do after school, and getting out of school early as possible is really ideal.”

The senior said he wishes the administration would offer a way for sixth period athletes to leave if they don’t have practice.

Though she understands why the change occurred, girls wrestler junior Karina Leon said she also disagrees with the new policy.

“I think we should be able to leave,” Leon said. “I don’t see why we should stay if we don’t have practice; we don’t have anything to do.”

Despite many athletes’ disapproval of a required study hall period if they don’t have practice, Karavedas said nothing can be done to reverse it, as other Fullerton Joint Union High School District schools never allowed students to leave if they didn’t have practice.

“It’s something that our school has had as part of our culture for a long time, and we enjoyed that privilege for longer than most,” he said. “It’s a change for us, but really, it’s not a change for any [other school].”

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Justin Pak, News Editor
After spending his first year on The Accolade staff as a copy editor, junior Justin Pak returns as the news editor. Through journalism, he aims to strengthen his writing and time management skills. In his free time, Pak enjoys sleeping.
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