Pompano Beach High School has a lot to brag about when it comes to academic performance.
“We’re the No. 1 ranked school in Broward County, we have the most points, we’re an A-plus school,” says Assistant Principal Lori Carlson.
But what really makes the magnet school unique is its schedule. The students only go to school four days a week, making them the state's only pupils to have all Fridays off.
The school started the four day week experiment here back in 1997, and even though at the time it seemed to defy the laws of standard educational physics, the experiment appears to be working out. Students appreciate having the flexibility to volunteer or pursue other extra-curricular activities on Fridays. The school also offers its own programming on the day off, including tutoring for SATs and other exams.
"I catch up on my homework, which I have a lot of, and I go back to my middle school and do mentoring of the robotics teams,” Matthew Weisfeld said of his Friday plans.
He’s typical of the students here. The technology, like a 3-D printer, draws science-minded kids who don’t mind a longer school day, and many use Fridays for internships. Senior Florence Xiong is working in doctor’s office, getting a taste of her future.
“It makes me want to be a doctor even more because I get to see her helping out the patients, it encourages me that this is what I’m going into,” Xiong explained.
Two of her classmates, Sarah Spardy and Madison Farley, are using their free Fridays to benefit the community. The girls are organizing a charity 5k run. The idea is to collect toys for needy children’s birthdays.
“We decided instead of just Christmas, we could bring it to kids for their birthdays,” explained Farley.
Pompano Beach High is a magnet specializing in international affairs and information technology. Three hundred students are chosen by a lottery to attend each year, from a pool of about a thousand who apply.
Reconfiguring the weekly schedule requires approval of a local school district. While Pompano Beach has seen success in both test scores and college admissions under its plan -- 99 percent of the students go on to post-secondary schools, ranging from Broward College to Harvard -- other schools in the state have yet to make the transition.
“We get calls frequently from other schools in the state asking about the program here, but as far as I know, nobody else has changed their schedule,” Carlson said.