A Project for Better Journalism chapter
Opinion

Seminar freezes need to be thawed

It was a typical Tuesday morning in my AP Psychology class.  I walked up to my teacher, Instructor Paul McNitt, and asked if he would request me for seminar so I could study for the upcoming test.  He informed me that today was actually a seminar freeze, and I was not allowed to transfer.  

   When I got to my seminar a couple hours later, I asked my teacher why today was a freeze.  She said there was College Board work that needed to be done but it would only take a few minutes.  We had to set up college board accounts, which most people had already done, and look at the jobs we might want to do in the future.  The work ended up taking about 10 minutes. We had just wasted almost an entire seminar.

   This is the reality of most seminar freezes.  

   Seminar is the only time students have during the day to focus solely on specific classes they are struggling in.  They don’t have to worry about their teachers getting mad at them for doing other work in class because seminar is their time.  When the school freezes seminar, the time that should be used for improving students’ grades, is used for short and often pointless activities.

   West Ottawa High School does a fantastic job of getting their students to think about colleges.  There are many times that I can remember going to seminar and finding out it’s a freeze because of college prep work.  The only problem is, college work only takes about 10 to 15 minutes. The key to seminar success is going to visit teachers that can give students the best help possible.  However, when students finish the college work, the last portion where they should be able to transfer isn’t spent that way.

  This obviously wastes our time.  The whole point of having the seminar class is to give students the time to work on whatever they need.  The school taking away the entire 45 minutes given to the students for their own benefit for a mere 10 minute discussion is pointless.  

   On Thursday, October 3, there was a seminar freeze to go over College Board information and how it works and our seminar rules.  This is important information that is helpful to students; however, it only took my seminar class 15 minutes to get through it all.  The rest of the 30 minutes we spent stuck in seminar, not a single person was able to transfer and get help. Everyone there, including me, messed around and played games.  Without our usual opportunities, nobody was able to use the time for school.

   The next seminar was also frozen.  On Tuesday, October 8, I remember walking into my seminar, hearing it was a freeze, and immediately getting annoyed because I couldn’t use the time that school gives me to transfer where I need too.  I wanted to bang my head on the desk out of anger.

   This particular group of seminar freezes bothered me very much.  I was studying for upcoming tests happening the rest of the week, and I needed every minute of seminar to go visit teachers and get help.  But no, the school decided that the College Board work that we were continuing from the previous Thursday deserved the entire seminar time, hindering students’ abilities to succeed in their classes.

      I can’t even imagine what thoughts provoke the idea that we need to spend 45 minutes for something as small as a College Board discussion or job survey that could be over in five minutes.  The school doesn’t understand that yes, college board is important, but it’s taking away the already sparse time we get for our own use and therefore taking away our small bit of freedom. This is outrageous.

   Teachers always talk about how they are more than willing to help students during seminar or before and after school.  The issue is, many students simply don’t have the time to come in before or after school. For a lot of students, seminar is the ideal time to get help.  When there are seminar freezes, these students are left to fend for themselves.

   Seminar is set up so students can’t even transfer until 10:45.  This leaves the first five minutes of seminar free which could be used to get the work that the school wants us to do out of the way and still allow students to transfer and use their time wisely.  Even if the college board work did take longer than five minutes, it is easy to freeze the first couple minutes of seminar and still save the last 30 minutes for the students.

   Not only is seminar frozen on random days of the school year, it is also frozen for more important reasons.  The only issue is, seminar is frozen for way too long.

   Every year on the first day of school, there is a two-hour seminar freeze.  In these two hours, students receive their Chromebooks for the year, and they talk about the student handbook rules.  This discussion part of the seminar freeze can be completed in at most 40 minutes.  

   The second part of the seminar freeze is a tour.  This year I participated and took a freshman around school.  We started out spending the first 10 minutes finding her first and second hour.  After we got to this point, she informed me that she already knew where all her classes were because she went to the school open house and found them then.  

   We still had over an hour to do absolutely nothing.  I decided that we would just wander around the school because there was no point in going back to seminar just to sit with everyone else that also weren’t doing anything.  We might as well walk around and talk.  

   My experience with being a tour guide for a freshman on the first day of school was  extremely similar to most others’. Most freshmen already know where their classes are or they decide that they can figure them out later.  Very few people actually take the school tour seriously.

   Upperclassmen and freshmen spend the last hour and 20 minutes of the seminar freeze “touring” the school while the other students just sit in seminar doing nothing.  This is ridiculous.

   Why do we need to spend a full hour on making sure the freshmen know where their classes are when they should have taken the initiative themselves and done it before?  There are always administrators in the main hallways that show students where their classes are if they’re still confused. With this resource available, what is the point of having a tour of the building?

   It is honestly infuriating to witness so much precious seminar time go to waste for a short and easy discussion that could be done in the first five minutes of class.  I do not understand the thought process that says we need the whole 45 minutes to be dedicated to a 10 minute long discussion.

   Whether it’s college board work or school tours, unnecessarily long seminar freezes could often times be avoided to better help students use the time given to them for their own personal benefit.

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