For 80 minutes each day, students at J.H. Rose High School in Greenville live by one rule:
"Be smart," says math teacher Tracey Moore.
The free period is appropriately called "Smart Block," which stands for "Students Managing Academics, Relationships and Time." It's a new program that started this semester and it's the only one like it in Pitt County.
"It's giving teenagers the opportunity to make good decisions," Moore says. "We can't expect them to go off to college and manage their time if we haven't taught them how to do that here."
Under teacher supervision, 1,500 students have a range of options on how they want to spend their time – from intramural sports, to band practice, to independent study groups and teacher-led review sessions.
"I enjoy Smart Block because it gives me one-on-one time with the teacher because I never really get that chance during an actual class period," freshman Tristin Smith says.
It's also a time to eat lunch or just hang out with friends. It's pure freedom.
So how do teachers make sure students aren't getting into trouble?
"I think people don't give teenagers the benefit of the doubt," Moore says. "They really, 90 percent of the time, 90 percent of the kids are going to make great decisions."
Moore helped initiate the Smart Block and says the few students who don't play by the rules, no longer get to play. If they act out, they must attend a session similar to detention instead.
But overall, she says the real pay-off is seeing her students be proactive, and take charge of their academics and their future.
"It is beyond what I ever thought it could be," she says.
Moore says this type of program helps students excel in school because it accommodates those who play sports, have an after-school job, or who ride the bus and can't stay afterward to meet with teachers.
She hopes their success story will inspire other schools to implement the program next year.