Zero hours provide scheduling benefits and a fun start to the morning

Students and teachers start their zero hour at 6:40 in the morning

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Students and teachers start their zero hour at 6:40 in the morning

Coach and teacher Tim Rogers notices the value of getting up before the sun and challenging yourself with a workout before the day even starts.

Rogers is not only the football coach, but he also teaches gym classes—one of them being a zero-hour Strength and Conditioning class. The point of providing students with the opportunity to be a part of a zero hour is to allow them to easily fit other classes into their schedule, but for Rogers, he views his class as one that will get students ready for life beyond high school. 

“Some people don’t want to get up this early,” Rogers said. “But for most of their lives, when they leave college and they go directly into the workforce, the most convenient time to work out during the day is before the day starts. Most of the people in my zero hour are repeat [students], and they’re the people that have the type A personalities and can get out of bed and see the value of getting up before the day truly starts.”

While waking up an hour earlier than normal may be difficult for some, Rogers is training his students to be able to work out whenever and wherever they may be. Whether they have accessibility to an entire weight room or just a bumper plate, he covers all aspects of working out in hopes that his students will continue to use their knowledge after they leave the class.

“We do a variety of activities,” Rogers said. “From lifetime fitness activities to exercises and things that we would do as athletes. [We are] trying to build a bigger, stronger, and faster athlete and also teaching students lifetime [fitness] not just in a weight room but also when we are in the gymnasium, and they do some exercises in there. I also try to do a variety of different [workouts] to teach all of our students [that] someday, when they leave this class, not only [do they know how to] develop a strength and conditioning plan, but they also can do it with a bunch of different resources—or lack of them.”

It is pretty neat to know not only are they motivated but [that] they actually enjoyed taking the class.”

— Tim Rogers

For Rogers, teaching the zero-hour class allows him to know which of his students and athletes are truly dedicated to staying fit; with repeating students, it is effortless to point out the ones who genuinely want to be there.

“I love seeing the repeat [students]” Rogers said. “I only teach this second semester and probably half of my class [has] been in this zero hour before. I know they are dedicated and want to have a lifestyle and want to stay fit for the rest of their lives. It is pretty neat to know not only are they motivated but [that] they actually enjoyed taking the class.”

While most of the students taking this zero hour are repeating students, newcomers are always welcome no matter the grade. For junior Conner Milton, this is his first semester taking the class. 

While he doesn’t adore the idea of waking up earlier, he finds joy in getting to see familiar faces in the beginning of his day—even if it means getting less sleep. 

“I get to see my friends and Coach Rogers with his smiling face everyday,” Conner said. “But waking up early is the downside. I don’t get enough sleep as is, and taking this class just makes me get less sleep than normal—which isn’t much.”

For Conner, working out early with a little bit of sleep deprivation is not the best way to start his mornings. Although, like Rogers, he recognizes the benefits of taking this zero hour and the outcomes that could help in the future when he finishes high school.

“It gets you prepared for college,” Conner said. “And you can grow up to be a strong person. It gets you up and going in the morning, and [it] is a good [way to] kickstart to your day.”

Unlike Conner, senior Hailey Castor doesn’t mind waking up early if it means she gets to do what she loves.

Hailey is a part of the zero hour choir The Central Singers. This is a zero hour only class and requires an audition to be able to partake in it. 

While it is early in the morning, Hailey can easily fit a musical class into her schedule without any complications, and that is enough of a reason for her to be up an hour earlier.

“I really like singing,” Hailey said. “Even though it is really early in the morning, I wanted to take more classes, but they didn’t necessarily fit into my schedule, so I chose to do it as a zero hour. After you start waking up an hour earlier, it begins to feel normal and no different than waking up at a regular time.”

Because this is a class that requires an audition, Hailey is reassured that the people singing next to her share the same passion for singing as she does.

“I enjoy being able to sing with people that actually want to be there,” Hailey said. “Other choir classes have kids that join just for the graduation requirements, but [in] this class, you actually have to want to take it.”

Just a few steps from the choir room lies another zero hour—one that, from the outside of the classroom, may project similar sounds to the fifth quarter during football season.

Laura Zilhaver is the band teacher and director and has a zero hour for the percussion ensemble specifically. Zilhaver believes that without access to a zero hour, many of the fun performances the band holds would not happen.

“An advantage [of having a zero hour] is scheduling,” Zilhaver said. “Most of the kids in the class are also in another band class. Especially in the fall with marching band, we treat our zero hour time as drumline sectionals. The reason we can [perform] fifth quarter and do all of the special events for homecoming is because of zero hour—it all happens then.”

Another perk of her zero hour is that anyone can join; it doesn’t matter what skill level the students are. If they are interested in playing a percussion instrument, Zilhaver’s zero hour is welcoming to anyone.

“Anyone who is interested in learning to play percussion [should take the zero hour],” Zilhaver said. “It’s the only band class that beginners would truly be able to jump into. Because everyone is a percussionist, we can take the time to assess everyone’s capabilities, and it is a multilevel class—there are freshmen through seniors in it.”

Because it is open for all skill levels, it takes a little bit longer to get the groove of the music down and allow everyone to catch on to how to play the instrument. Once everyone gets a hang of it, it is fun for everyone in the room.

When Zilhaver was hired about four years ago, part of the job was to be the teacher for the zero hour. The percussion ensemble has been happening for around twenty years, but she saw it as a simple plus; she found it as a way to add more fun to her job.

With the zero hours offered in school, there will be downsides—like waking up early—but, there are also exceptionally rewarding moments. Whether students are finally able to lift their goal weight, sing their favorite song, or make music with friends, the extra hour added onto the day is gratifying.

“My favorite part is when we have been working on a piece for maybe four or five weeks and it starts to come together,” Zilhaver said. “It takes a little bit of time, and we have to grind through it a little bit; we are just figuring out the notes and rhythms. It’s not the most fun. It’s a lot of work, but around week five and six, it really starts to come together, and we really start to have fun and groove with it. It can happen anytime, but it is just super rewarding.”