This is not the high school I remember.
When I graduated high school 20+ years ago I saw high school as a holding place until I began my own life. I just had to get through it. I did not see the high school as the platform that would allow me to perform the high dive into life. Rather it was just there. I took the requisite classes (English, History and Math), took typing and gym and a foreign language. I spent a lot of classroom hours in study hall. A place where students where warehoused until their next class.
I read a lot of Harlequin romances in study hall.
There were electives offered that placed us in gender specific roles (Home EC for the girls, Auto shop for the boys). Electives were just that, elective. You took what you had to in order to earn the minimum number of credits to get that diploma and brush the sand off your feet before you embarked on your life. We had athletics and band. We had a radio station and art classes. It was a cookie cutter education experience. Not because teachers were not innovative, more the sign of the times.
Times have changed—this time for the better.
When you do not have a child of junior and senior high school age, you focus on where you are at the time. Ask me about kindergarten or sixth grade and I can tell you whatever you need to know in making choices. Anything above that would have been beyond my knowledge base or frankly not anything I was interested in. I could only tell you of my experience 25 years ago at Sandwich High School. Being on the school committee, I have a birds-eye view of how that high school has changed.
As Dr. Booras and her team presented the academic opportunities for the upcoming 2016-17 school year, I thought to myself, this is not the high school I remember. The opportunities presented for our STEM and SHS students are mind-boggling. From art to bioscience, from architecture to teaching assistant and from computer science to water safety our students have no excuse to be bored. Their days are filled with academics determined to engage the mind and heart of the student.
I was shocked when I learned that study hall no longer existed. When did students nap and catch up on the latest young adult novels?
The intriguing thing about STEM/SHS opportunities is that every individual child should be able to find a program that speaks to them. The music artist that wants to take their craft to the next level is able to take Music Theory. The foreign language student who wants to go further than learning how to conjugate verbs? There is The Last French & Spanish Frontier classes. Even library has evolved from being a room you sit quietly in, to an active learning center.
We now have after-school programs that include expose our students to their local and their world communities. Habitat for Humanity, Football, Knights Theater, Model United Nations, Sandwich Soul, Hockey, Lacrosse and Volleyball, National Honors Society and Leadership clubs; an Outdoor club and philosophy club are examples of just a few afterschool clubs that have been created by students for students. If a student has an interest, there is a club (and a teacher willing) to create a moment for take that interest and create impact.
STEM and SHS have advanced from a junior/senior cookie cutter experience to a winding road of educational opportunities. Learning has been included in every discipline, to build on strengths and decrease struggles. Students are no longer warehoused but engaged. We no longer place students in electives by gender, but by enthusiasm.
Comparing my high school experience to the experience of a student today, I’m kind of jealous. As more than one school committee uttered during the meeting, I wish I could go back to high school.
Please note, this post was written as my own view and is not a statement from the Sandwich School Committee.
I have three kids in high school, and one more will join them next year. The wide variety of activities for them to join is awesome. There really is something for everyone. And yet, I don’t think I’d want to go back to high school. The expectations of this age group is mind-boggling. (Which could get me going into a rant about expectations that are ridiculous for all age-groups, but I won’t go there.) The classes are so much harder, and as you said, they have no study halls. All the homework has to be done after school. Plus, if you take AP classes, they have summer work due the first day of school. And it’s not easy summer work. Sports are no longer kept to their seasons, so playing more than one is difficult. Getting a job is next to impossible. The only day open each week is Sunday, and I’m not keen on my kid missing church in order to work. A couple of my kids are quite social, but they don’t even have much time to simply hang out with their friends.
I would like to see a middle ground. There has to be something that is more varied and challenging than what we had, but still leave room for the teens to relax and enjoy their last years of non-adulthood.
I always say you couldn’t pay me to relive JR/SR high. I completely agree with the downtime. I don’t bring work from home and don’t think my children should either, for example. What I do like is that each program engages the student, rather than being bored as the teacher drawls on.
Such an exciting time for our schools here in Sandwich!! So happy for our kids 🙂