At a convocation in April 1967, Janesville schools Superintendent Fred Holt laid down the law.
Parker High School wouldn’t be finished in time for the new school year, so Janesville High School students would have to attend classes in shifts for at least part of the 1967-68 school year.
Soon-to-be Craig students would attend from 7 a.m. to noon, and soon-to-be Parker students from 12:45 to 6 p.m.
High school enrollment was expected to hit 2,500 in fall 1967, and Janesville High School—now Craig High School—was designed to house only 1,500 students.
You can understand Holt’s desire for order.
At the convocation, Holt told incoming students and upperclassmen that he would not tolerate gang fights, unreasonable rivalries or “defiant attitudes,” according to a story in the Janesville Daily Gazette.
“It’s happened in other cities, and it can happen here,” Holt said. “Defiant attitudes toward this double shift can mean an elimination of athletics and activities and a diminishing of the things you enjoy.”
You could hardly blame students for having bad attitudes. Their school day was jammed into five hours and 21 minutes, with only a 13-minute break for a snack between third and fourth periods.
Holt managed to leach the fun out of snack time, too.
“We won’t be selling Coke and candy bars,” he told them.
Students were expected to share lockers, as well.
How did it work out?
On Sept. 7, 1967, Janesville Daily Gazette reporter Patricia Klotz watched one of the first shift changes at the high school.
“The thirst for knowledge was never more evident yesterday when Parker High School students thronged Janesville High School at noon, clamoring to be admitted,” Klotz wrote.
Barring their way were an assistant principal and “burly Bob Suter on the Craig coaching staff.”
Students still hadn’t figured out how to manage the midday snack and were indignant at Principal Hugh Horswill’s suggestion that they bring fruit to eat.
“Sure, fruit looks good for you, but look at how it spoils,” an unnamed senior told Klotz.
Two weeks later, Klotz interviewed parents, teachers and students, and everyone appeared to have adapted.
Almost none of the Craig students liked getting up early.
Mary Lou Sagan and Cathie Sagen were exceptions.
“You see, we come from the country, so we’re used to getting up at that hour,” Mary Lou said in a Gazette story from Sept. 18, 1967.
Parent Earl Lloyd said he had to leave for work early anyway, so it was just a matter of waking up his son Bruce at the same time.
“It was an awful experience for him at first,” Lloyd said. “We had a hard time getting him up, but now he’s getting used to it.”
Teachers struggled to jam 53 minutes of learning—the standard course time—into 40 minutes of instruction.
Hit hardest were teachers who taught physical education, shop, art, home economics and other classes that relied on active student participation.
“Subtracting 17 minutes for changing in and out of gym suits, showering and drying, there’s just 23 minutes left for actual instruction, including running out to the field and back,” Klotz wrote in her story.
Business education teacher Faith Macke was concerned that students were not able to practice their typing as long as they should.
Shorter classes also meant more homework, which kept students from “frittering their time” downtown while not in school, the story said.
“Frittering time” was one of the community’s concerns.
At a February 1967 school board meeting, board member Mrs. C. R. Gilbertson asked the superintendent to explore having students take courses at the Janesville Vocational School during their free time.
“Parents are beginning to worry about what their children can do with their time under the double shift,” said Gilbertson, whose first name was never revealed.
“Their teachers are going to see that they use that time constructively,” he said.
In his April 1967 speech to students, Holt told them that several community groups wanted to “plan your leisure time for you.” He thought they were old enough to plan it for themselves.
However, he told them that spending their time “loitering in business places was ill-advised,” and he depended on them to act “like the ladies and gentlemen the city has come to expect from Janesville High School.”
A Janesville Daily Gazette editorial written about a week after Holt’s speech noted the split shift could cause tension.
The 13-minute lunch period was bound to cause “animosity among those who now look forward to that half-hour break each day when a joyride can be fitted in or other outlets can be sought.”
The editorial did not specify what it meant by “other outlets.”
The editorial also expressed concern about students sharing “both street and gymnasium lockers, and that could cause tension, a locker society being what it is.” It did not explain what a “locker society” was.