The School Newspaper for California High School, San Ramon CA

The Californian

Schedule policy lets seniors leave

School bringing back program that allows seniors to leave at lunch

Photo courtesy of danvillesanramon

Josh Iversen, Staff Writer

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A new district policy will allow next year’s seniors to leave campus before fifth and/or sixth period if they have already completed enough credits to graduate.

This change comes at a time when the campus is more crowded than ever.

Cal High staff anticipates an increase of about 70 more students next year, bringing the student-to-faculty ratio to about 27 to 1, according to the minutes from the March curriculum leaders meeting.

Current juniors who are already ahead by 10 credits may opt out of one period, while students who are ahead by 20 or more may opt out of both fifth and sixth periods.

This means that instead of taking an unwanted elective just to fill out their schedules, these students can go home early.

Junior Taylor Blok, for example, will not be taking a fifth or sixth period next year.

“I feel very excited because it will make getting things done such as homework and projects much easier,” Blok said.

This idea has been in the mind of the district’s first-year Superintendent Rick Schmitt for many years, dating back to his time as principal of Torrey Pines High School and as the superintendent of the San Dieguito Union High School District in San Diego.

“I like students to be in charge of their own learning, and to have lots of choice,” Schmitt told The Californian during a March press conference.

According to Schmitt, Torrey Pines students could choose to take anywhere between four and eight classes each year, as long as they completed their required credits.

“These days, so many kids are over-scheduled, and not getting enough sleep. These kids are miserable,” Schmitt said. “With this [policy], you can decide whether you’re good to go on credits. I love options like that.”

English teacher Donna Montague, who is also a district literacy coach and Cal’s School Site Council coordinator,  thinks some of the positives of the new policy include allowing students to take a college class, have a job, or participate in an internship in the afternoon.

She said she believes the new policy will reduce class sizes and crowding at lunch as well.

“If more students took A period,” Montague said, “we could allow seniors to leave at lunch and not take a fifth or sixth period class, and have more classes offered A period.”

But this policy also comes at a time at which students who can take an A period are still being limited based on types of classes and electives they take.

In November 2015, The Californian reported that one option being considered to solve overcrowding on campus was installing portables behind the main building.

As of now, this is no longer being planned, leading some to speculate that this policy could be the new, less expensive solution to overcrowding.

But district spokesperson Elizabeth Graswich said this policy is instead focused on improving student life.

“California High School’s decision is not related to enrollment growth, but rather is about providing students with options,” Graswich said. “The hope is that the choice will allow students the flexibility to explore college and career options, internships, mentorships, jobs or providing an opportunity for school/life balance.”

Many believe the change will be a positive one.

“I feel that many students have worked incredibly hard throughout high school,” said counselor Erin Kellar-Hill.  “They definitely deserve to have a free period if they are ahead, they’ve earned it.”

Students are already very excited for this new policy and the time it will give them, particularly when it comes to college applications.

“I believe it’ll help relieve stress for seniors,” Blok said. “The majority will be applying to colleges so it’s beneficial for them to have less on their plate.”

For example, this year senior Lauren Suezaki did not take a second period.  This was prior to the implementation of the new policy, so she had to take a class at DVC each semester to keep a full schedule, but she still felt the experience was very much a positive one.

“It was really helpful to have extra time, especially with college apps and basketball,” Suezaki said. “This year I feel like I have more time to sleep, which is always nice. In return I’m well rested for the school day and can perform better.”

Students who choose to take fifth and/or sixth period off will be required to leave campus because there will be no place for them to stay after lunch.

The policy could affect students who have after school sports and activities. These students would be forced to go home and come back.

Some elective programs also could be negatively affected and possibly eliminated because of lower enrollment.

Montague believes this might not be the end of policy changes regarding student schedules.

“As a district, we could also look at our graduation requirements and how our students are meeting them,” Montague said. “There could be more room for student choice and options, allowing students to not have to take classes they don’t want,  or need or aide just to fill six periods.

“There has also been discussion about allowing seniors in good academic standing to ‘bank’ credits during freshman, sophomore, and junior year, then get out early senior year,” Montague continued. “But this is not policy and does not meet the current board policy.”

Suzaki was very happy with her schedule this year, and thinks the new policy will be beneficial to future seniors.

“Overall,” she said, “it’s really nice and I get to enjoy my senior year more.”

A new district policy will allow next year’s seniors to leave campus before fifth and/or sixth period if they have already completed enough credits to graduate.

This change comes at a time when the campus is more crowded than ever.

Cal High staff anticipates an increase of about 70 more students next year, bringing the student-to-faculty ratio to about 27 to 1, according to the minutes from the March curriculum leaders meeting.

Current juniors who are already ahead by 10 credits may opt out of one period, while students who are ahead by 20 or more may opt out of both fifth and sixth periods.

This means that instead of taking an unwanted elective just to fill out their schedules, these students can go home early.

Junior Taylor Blok, for example, will not be taking a fifth or sixth period next year.

“I feel very excited because it will make getting things done such as homework and projects much easier,” Blok said.

This idea has been in the mind of the district’s first-year Superintendent Rick Schmitt for many years, dating back to his time as principal of Torrey Pines High School and as the superintendent of the San Dieguito Union High School District in San Diego.

“I like students to be in charge of their own learning, and to have lots of choice,” Schmitt told The Californian during a March press conference.

According to Schmitt, Torrey Pines students could choose to take anywhere between four and eight classes each year, as long as they completed their required credits.

“These days, so many kids are over-scheduled, and not getting enough sleep. These kids are miserable,” Schmitt said. “With this [policy], you can decide whether you’re good to go on credits. I love options like that.”

English teacher Donna Montague, who is also a district literacy coach and Cal’s School Site Council coordinator,  thinks some of the positives of the new policy include allowing students to take a college class, have a job, or participate in an internship in the afternoon.

She said she believes the new policy will reduce class sizes and crowding at lunch as well.

“If more students took A period,” Montague said, “we could allow seniors to leave at lunch and not take a fifth or sixth period class, and have more classes offered A period.”

But this policy also comes at a time at which students who can take an A period are still being limited based on types of classes and electives they take.

In November 2015, The Californian reported that one option being considered to solve overcrowding on campus was installing portables behind the main building.

As of now, this is no longer being planned, leading some to speculate that this policy could be the new, less expensive solution to overcrowding.

But district spokesperson Elizabeth Graswich said this policy is instead focused on improving student life.

“California High School’s decision is not related to enrollment growth, but rather is about providing students with options,” Graswich said. “The hope is that the choice will allow students the flexibility to explore college and career options, internships, mentorships, jobs or providing an opportunity for school/life balance.”

Many believe the change will be a positive one.

“I feel that many students have worked incredibly hard throughout high school,” said counselor Erin Kellar-Hill.  “They definitely deserve to have a free period if they are ahead, they’ve earned it.”

Students are already very excited for this new policy and the time it will give them, particularly when it comes to college applications.

“I believe it’ll help relieve stress for seniors,” Blok said. “The majority will be applying to colleges so it’s beneficial for them to have less on their plate.”

For example, this year senior Lauren Suezaki did not take a second period.  This was prior to the implementation of the new policy, so she had to take a class at DVC each semester to keep a full schedule, but she still felt the experience was very much a positive one.

“It was really helpful to have extra time, especially with college apps and basketball,” Suezaki said. “This year I feel like I have more time to sleep, which is always nice. In return I’m well rested for the school day and can perform better.”

Students who choose to take fifth and/or sixth period off will be required to leave campus because there will be no place for them to stay after lunch.

The policy could affect students who have after school sports and activities. These students would be forced to go home and come back.

Some elective programs also could be negatively affected and possibly eliminated because of lower enrollment.

Montague believes this might not be the end of policy changes regarding student schedules.

“As a district, we could also look at our graduation requirements and how our students are meeting them,” Montague said. “There could be more room for student choice and options, allowing students to not have to take classes they don’t want,  or need or aide just to fill six periods.

“There has also been discussion about allowing seniors in good academic standing to ‘bank’ credits during freshman, sophomore, and junior year, then get out early senior year,” Montague continued. “But this is not policy and does not meet the current board policy.”

Suzaki was very happy with her schedule this year, and thinks the new policy will be beneficial to future seniors.

“Overall,” she said, “it’s really nice and I get to enjoy my senior year more.”

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The School Newspaper for California High School, San Ramon CA
Schedule policy lets seniors leave