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Guidance Reinforces Schedule Change Rules

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Lucy Law, Co Editor-in-Chief

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Stricter enforcement on guidance policies creates confusion surrounding schedule changes.

Last year, SJHHS guidance counselors sent out a letter in order to ensure all students were signed up for the the right classes in the 2018-2019. Students’ parents had to sign the letter confirming everything was correct.

In the letter, all of the rules that are being followed this year are clearly stated and students were informed that changes would have to be done that year. Starting in the new school year electives could not be changed, and core classes could only be leveled down.

Just to clarify, there are no new rules. I know that it seems like it’s new, it’s just being communicated a little bit more.”

— Amy Varicchio

Guidance began the new process in the spring in order to reduce the amount of changes that would have to be done to schedules during the summer and the school year.

With the new school year, came a lot of confusion on what was and what was not allowed to be changed when it came to the students’ schedules.

Students are able to level down or drop a class that is not needed in order to graduate. Since they specifically chose the electives they are put in, it makes it more problematic to switch, because the amount of classes offered are based off of how many people are signed up for the class.

“Just to clarify, there are no new rules. I know that it seems like it’s new, it’s just being communicated a little bit more.” says Assistant Principal of Guidance, Amy Varricchio.

Starting in the spring, guidance counselors meet with their students to go over their goals, and their future plans to make sure they are signed up for the right classes and are on track for graduation. Teachers also go over curriculum for AP and accelerated classes, so if a student volunteers to take one, it is expected that they are aware of the rigor.

“It was really frustrating because my counselor had to get approval to even look up if the class was dull. My class was too rigorous and I wanted to go into an easier AP class so I wouldn’t be as stressed, but I couldn’t change.” says senior Hannah Hughitt.

Outrage has been voiced among upperclassmen because not a lot of them were able to receive free fifth or sixth periods. In the past, most students could have a zero period, with classes up until fourth period, and then be able to leave at lunch if they wanted. The problem this year with this is numbers in classes.

The school day is from 7:54 am until 2:45 pm. Students were using zero period as a way to end the school day early, while its original purpose is when it is meant to help students who have an impacted schedule and are taking extra classes. So more 5th and 6th periods were offered instead of zero, that way they would have more students on campus at the end of the day and class sizes would be more balanced.

In the morning, classes would be overfilled with 36-40 students in one period. Once 5th period hit, class sizes would be much smaller.

“It helps to balance the master schedule and provide the best schedule for students. [The students] requested so many different things and electives and stuff like that and we want to make sure we can accommodate all of that.” Varricchio said.

Zero periods are based of course requests. Students use a code on the Aeries portal to request a zero period, which lets the counselors see how many zeros are needed for each of the class loads. Because the freshman and sophomore classes are so much bigger, naturally there were more zero periods offered for those grades.

My class was too rigorous and I wanted to go into an easier AP class so I wouldn’t be as stressed, but I couldn’t change.”

— Hannah Hughitt

There is a program with Aeries that tells counselors the best period to put a class based on student requests, and tells the highest percent of students that can take a class at each certain time of the day.

“Zero was not a common one for senior classes, we were noticing that it fit better between the periods 1-6 schedule. So everything was done based on where it fit best for students, because classes tended to be really small for zero for our senior class. That was surprising to me as well.” said Varricchio.

Freshman and sophomores are more likely to have a zero because they have bigger classes, and use it to and take seven classes, not to leave school early with a free fifth or sixth.

While many are frustrated, limitation of changing a schedule is so students are more aware of what they are taking. It also helps guidance create a master schedule earlier in the year, and creates more balanced class sizes for teachers.

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About the Writer
Lucy Law, Co Editor-in-Chief
Lucy is a senior at SJHHS and is excited to be returning for her third year for The Express as Co Editor-in-Chief. When she’s not writing, you can find her at the beach or hanging out with her friends. After graduation, she is looking forward to traveling to different countries and experiencing new cultures. She...
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