A Project for Better Journalism chapter
Opinion, Student Life

Seriously?! Already?!

We all know what time it is. It’s time to course plan. What’s that? We’re not even through one semester? You could use your seminar time for something better? Too bad.

   It was a Thursday morning. I started off with my usual routine. As I arrived at school, I tried to remember my to-do list. It’s a seminar day I thought. I have a mythology project to edit, IB Physics lecture to watch, band music to practice, and a lab report to finish. Since it sounded the most appealing, I decided I’d go to the band class. Plus, I can’t just practice my instrument anywhere. After finishing my zero-hour jazz band class, I walked into my first hour. WOBN played, and the teacher began with announcements; unfortunately for me, the teacher reminded me of a minor detail. I had a seminar freeze that day for course planning.

   “One math, one English, one science, and one social studies class,” I thought as I began choosing my classes for the next school year. I had homework I needed to get done and teachers I needed to meet with, but because of the seminar freeze, I left with unfinished work, uncertain schedules, and unproductive time wasted.

   I understand that counselors have their reasons for doing it this early, but it’s convenient for only them. Our students can’t accomplish the work they need to finish without meeting with their teachers. Students need that one-on-one time that they can only get through our seminar. The seminar freezes reject anyone with hopes to receive help on homework or schoolwork. Toward the end of the semester, students have much more homework than at the beginning of the semester. For me, the seminar freezes did nothing but harm.

   Students have to study for quizzes, tests, and other assessments teachers try to cram in before Thanksgiving Break. Remember those Saturday morning cartoons? Remember when the characters attempted to balance this heap of junk, and a feather appeared out of nowhere. When that feather finally landed, it landed on the heap and CRASH!! The pile came down in a mess. That pile is our required tasks, and that heinous feather, that disaster waiting to happen, is course planning. It takes only one little movement. One little breath. One little task.

   We, as students, should focus on passing courses, not planning them. How do we know if we’ll even make it to the class we’re signing up for? How do we know if we’ll pass this class or not? We don’t.

   It takes only one test. One quiz. One project. Just one. That assignment could mean pass or fail. When students are trying to focus on passing their classes, they don’t have time to spend planning courses for a whole year into the future. They need that time to spend retaking quizzes, catching up on homework, and getting help from teachers.

   Course planning is a two-day seminar freeze, which takes valuable time from students who have better goals to accomplish. Case in point: passing a class. Jr. Bella Kephart said “Having more time to assess personal performance in the classes students are currently taking is crucial to choosing the best academic plan for the following year.” Two days isn’t enough time to make a firm decision about future classes. Students need time to consider which classes would suit them best based on their quiz, test, and exam scores.

   Students also forget to consider what classes they might take next year amid the business of life. They aren’t sure whether they’ll take trigonometry or AP Calculus BC because they don’t know how they’ll do in their current class. During both course planning days, I heard people complaining because they weren’t sure whether to take AP Calculus AB or AP Calculus BC. Many people don’t have a clue what class they will do next because it all depends on the success of the current class.

   West Ottawa High School counselor Molly Moser stated, “With the amount of kids that each counselor has on their caseloads (over 500) and dealing with day-to-day social [or] emotional issues and other responsibilities, starting [course planning] earlier in the year is helpful.”

   I understand where the counselors are coming from. They have a good point, and I know they’re trying to lighten their heavy workload without sacrificing the convenience of everyone else, but it just isn’t working. If people got A’s for effort, many more people would pass AP Calculus BC.

   I propose an alternative solution along with my criticism. Instead of planning courses, teachers could address the course options now, so the students have one to two months to consider courses for next year.  Then, in January, right after final exams, we can do the seminar freezes.

   In this scenario, students won’t have to worry about preparing for quizzes and tests. Also, it’s only a two-month difference, so counselors still have a little extra time on the schedules. Finally, if the final exam was the deciding factor between two future courses, students can choose the more suitable course accordingly.

   I know being a counselor isn’t easy, and I have great respect for our counselors and their work. I also, don’t expect everyone to get everything right the first time, but this course planning schedule is too much for us.

   I know if I don’t speak out, there may not be a change, so I say this on the behalf of many of my fellow students, keep the students in mind. The cries of the students echo, “Keep us in mind.”

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