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At some point in their high school experience, every senior in their second semester wonders, “why do I have to work so much when I’m leaving in 6 months?” The question’s importance magnifies once the student finds out what colleges they have gotten into. It then becomes, “why am I working this much when I know exactly where I’m going to go next year?” Everything feels like a chore at that point, but not because they hate school. It’s rather that once they’ve made their college decision, school work seems unrewarding.
And this is a perfectly valid thought. Unless you’re studying for an AP test at the end of the year, how important are your classes for college? Most seniors in their second semester are basically only working to make sure they don’t get their college offer rescinded. Many would argue that people don’t come to high school just to get into college and that the point of high school is to learn and become more informed, but from what I’ve seen, this isn’t the case. Students seem to take pride in forgetting the content of a unit the day after taking the unit test for it; they don’t come to school to become more informed. And for the senior students that believe they do, I would like to ask them what they remember from their freshman year Geography class.
Seniors should be given a bit more leniency when it comes to their final semester at Washington High, especially when it comes to attendance. According to the senior contract, being truant too many times will place the student at risk of not graduating and will prevent them from being able to participate in senior activities. This should change to a better system, where seniors only have to show up to periods that teachers deem absolutely necessary; this could include tests, labs, or other important days where the content covered in class cannot be completed at home. This would only be allowed if the senior is able to maintain good grades for that semester, getting a minimum of a B- in all their classes. While this may seem high, the benefit of having this kind of GPA for this semester is also relatively high. Another requirement for being able to skip certain classes would be having no more than 5 missing assignments. If students aren’t finishing their work, they shouldn’t bother trying to skip class. For days that are necessary for attendance, the absence policy can be what it currently is, where students need an excused absence to not attend. This way, students don’t abuse the fact that they can skip school whenever they please; they will show up to the days that are required unless they have a legitimate excuse for not attending.
A common complaint among seniors is that their classes aren’t eventful enough to need to go every day, or that the work is already on Google Classroom so there’s no need to attend class at all. This is something that a lot of seniors have experienced, especially this past semester, where we have not had a teacher or a lesson plan for most of November and December in AP Economics. We would basically be going to class to see which teacher was going to be our substitute instead of actually doing anything there. If this absence system existed then, students wouldn’t have gone to a class to sit at a desk and do nothing for 50 minutes before being released (in AP Economics alone, I was able to finish the Lord of the Rings trilogy during these weeks).
This kind of system would significantly improve the high school experience for seniors because it would give them more freedom in deciding which classes they want to attend and which ones they don’t. This is also the perfect motivation to try enough in class so that they can maintain a semester GPA of 3.0 to be able to not attend classes. It would also allow them to leave or not attend classes that simply aren’t necessary, thus presenting them with a significantly more relaxed final semester before they head off to college.