The Grand County School District’s yearly schedule will look a little different next year: the district’s schools will be transitioning to a semester system. The new system will replace the current trimester system, which has been in place since 1999. 

Grand County High School Principal Dr. Todd Thompson explained the rationale behind the change in an interview with the Moab Sun News. 

“We find that many of our students really struggle with six classes [per trimester],” he said. “Our students are very busy outside of their academics. A lot of them participate in sports, clubs, and work activities outside of school. So, you know, they’re really struggling with the ability to do well in all their classes.”

The new semester system reduces the number of classes students take at one time to four courses, each of which will be 90 minutes long. Dr. Thompson believes that this will provide students with more time to spend with their teachers, allowing for more intervention and one-on-one time.

“Teachers will be able to do more intervention with students, they’ll be able to spend more time making sure that kids master what they’re learning in the classroom,” he explained.

The change also could reduce the amount of homework from so many classes, potentially making students’ study time more focused and preventing them from falling behind. 

The switch to a semester or quarter system is not unique to Grand County. Schools across the country have moved away from traditional trimester systems in favor of a year with two semesters, citing increased success rates and higher graduation rates. Dr. Thompson, who has worked in education in several states, said he has seen the benefits of the change firsthand. 

“I’ve been working in this system since 1996, and my students did very well in college. A lot of them went to very well-known colleges,” he said. Thompson joined the district as GCHS principal at the start of the 2022-2023 school year. 

The schedule change also affects holiday breaks, with a shortened fall break allowing for the completion of the first semester before winter break. The 180-day school year will end the Friday before Memorial Day. 

Despite the potential benefits, there has been some unease with the changes. 

“When people are used to a system, they’re used to a system of education, and there was a little bit of pushback because it’s unknown, it’s something different and it can be scary because they don’t know the quarter and semester system,” Dr. Thompson acknowledged.

However, he is confident that the new system will ultimately benefit all of Grand County’s almost 1,500 students. 

“We have a high number of economically disadvantaged students. Last year, 53% of those students graduated, which tells me 47% didn’t. So we’ve got to do something different to be able to help those students,” he explained.

The Grand County School District has posted a FAQ for parents about the calendar change. You can view it at