My Experience of Going Back to School Full Time While Becoming a Manager in Training

With USD 266 high schools returning 11 months later to five days a week in person, students are forced to transition quickly to new sleep schedules, eating times and even personal activities with friends.

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Photo by Shiah McLain

My typical opening shift begins with portioning marinara cups for the breadsticks, folding boxes, washing dishes, while setting up and running our “cut table.” On opening shifts, I also help our opening cook with revenue and stretching dough.

Piper Pinnetti, Bullseye Editor-In-Chief

From throwing pepperoni on pizzas as quickly as possible, assisting customers, and standing next to a blazing hot oven pulling pies out from the opening, I am doing it all while working around 40 hours a week. Being a full time employee at Pizza Hut as part of the management team while also being a full time student is hard to balance.

Last Thursday, it became significantly more difficult with going to school five days a week.

A majority of the student body must complete schoolwork, attend school seven hours a day, participate in extracurricular activities, and maintain a social life while still allowing yourself time to eat, sleep, and shower. If you aren’t working a part time job, this can be a little bit easier to manage for a high school student.

At the edge of nearly turning 18 and becoming an adult, I now work roughly 40 hours a week at Pizza Hut. Starting March 16, I will officially be working at Pizza Hut for a full rotation around the sun. It began when my friend Rian Dolph heard me complaining about my first job and suggested I apply at Pizza Hut. After four months of convincing me, it worked. I traded in a bright red vest for a dark hat, new shoes, and a pack of three work shirts.

March 16 is also the Monday that term four of the last 2019-2020 semester was supposed to begin, but was delayed and eventually canceled for the beginning of the COVID precautions and school going full remote. With school switching to a sloppy and rushed online model for the remainder of the year in 2020, I began increasing my hours at work. Soon I was memorizing all of our specials, then I expanded out of our customer service and learned the production side of the business.

Hanging out with friends outside of work and virtual school has become nonexistent.

As the new 2020-2021 school year and my senior year arrived, I had already increased my hours significantly. The Hybrid model allowed me to expand my hours quite a bit on days where I learned virtually. The past six months, I have been working Thursdays and Mondays, and opening on the weekends as well as Fridays. Tuesdays were the days I committed to friend time. Homework was reserved for nighttime on specific days, mostly coming after 8:00 p.m. after working anywhere from four to nine hours shift.

For a teenager, exhaustion after a late shift at work knowing you have assignments to do before the next day can ruin your sleep schedule and cause mental stress and anxiety. (Illustration by Alexis Baty)

Virtual days meant school didn’t really “start” for me until the evening.

The Hybrid model that USD 266 has used for high school students the majority of the year has been perfect.  At first it was odd, of course, adjusting to going to school at all after months of not being inside the school. However, as students and staff members took baby steps into this new model, many students near graduation realized that this schedule was amazing. Even after running a poll on my personal Instagram, only around 16% of the 75 students that responded believed that going back five days a week actually made sense coming up on three quarters of the way through the school year.

As a senior, I have been taking as many steps as possible to make sure I am strategically planning for my future as well as enjoying the present. Working full time hours as a manager in training doesn’t compromise my long term goals academically.

In fact, increased responsibility at work only has helped build my skills and resume for my future.

The Hybrid model allowed me to adjust to what I, as a senior, am about to experience. Not having a class everyday, working and saving money, studying and doing homework while also managing time to hang out with friends when available.

Does this not sound like a rough outline of the college lifestyle we’re all about to jump into after high school anyways?

Suddenly, the USD 266 district is moving back to five days a week at school. My schedule was perfect, every day of the week was reserved for different things, and yet I was still able to have a super spontaneous day despite having a set schedule.

So how am I going to balance my management responsibilities, school and work schedule while also eating, sleeping, and seeing my friends? I’m not sure how it will all blend together at this moment.

After months (almost a full year) of four changes in learning models within four months, Hybrid has been a great opportunity for the student body to explore different interests, work extra hours at work and build professional skills in the workplace.

Perhaps we could have done Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays with two virtual days as a way to transition slowly back to “green light go” five days a week. Another idea would be four days a week with Wednesday still being used as a remote option for students struggling classes, small group meetings or even a way for clubs and organizations to meet and regroup from now until the end of the year.

Ultimately, a leap from two in person days to five increases the stress, work load, and decreases the personal and social growth outside of school for students and is not ideal for upperclassmen of our USD 266 high schools.