Matthew Olson, Erica Olson and Kalli Nelson.

BLHS students are critical of graduation policy

Intern Writer
Caitlin Loeffler
Graduation requirements and schedules have changed at Big Lake High School. Starting this school year, the school switched over to the trimester system.
Becker and Monticello high schools have the semester and quarter systems in use like Big Lake did up until this year.
Under the old semester system, students were required to get a minimum of 23 electives in order to graduate. Each semester was worth .5 credits as long as the student passed.  
Requirements included four credits for English and social studies, three for math and science, 1.5 for physical education, .5 for health, one for an art in either the musical or visual department, and six credits for electives.
With the trimester system, students are required to obtain a minimum of 69 credits in order to graduate.  Each trimester is worth one credit.
New requirements include 12 credits for both English and social studies, nine for both math and science, 4.5 for physical education, 1.5 for health, three for musical and visual arts, and 18 for electives. The credits for each class were multiplied by three to get the new graduation requirements.
In this new system, students have their grades recorded on transcripts three times per year compared to the semester system where they were only recorded twice. Electives can change up to three times a year as well, making more opportunities for students to choose their own classes.
Twenty four students in grades 10 through 12 were recently asked whether or not they liked the new trimester system at school;  67% of those students said they did not like the trimester system.
Sophomore Sonja Gerdts is one of the 16 students who don’t like the change.  “It takes longer to get better grades,” she explained, “and there is too much switching of classes.”
The lack of time to improve grades was a concern for most of the people who didn’t like the new system.
“You have to start out strong and pick it up quicker,” Michael Loeffler, sophomore, said.  “There’s just not as much time.”
Stress for some students was also caused by having to take more tests during the year. With the trimesters splitting the year into three parts, finals fell right before the break around Thanksgiving.
Mia Shaw, senior, said, “We shouldn’t have to take finals before Thanksgiving break.”
The time loss and extra finals weren’t the only hindrance for students.  Another concern was how the trimesters weren’t matching up with college classes.
Matthew Olson, junior, said, “It’s not working.  It is messing up everything with colleges and causing scheduling issues.”
“It’s pointless,” Ben Wehmas, senior, agreed.
Not all students are displeased with the results of the newly implemented trimesters; 25% of the students asked did like the change.
Sophomore Jake Schwebke is one of six students who appreciate the trimesters.
“It’s shorter,” he replied.  Other students who liked the new system also thought this was one of the biggest benefits. There is more change in the classes, so it’s harder to be bored throughout the school year.
“You can take more classes,” Ben Flicker, junior, explained. “Change is good.”
The other eight percent of students thought the advantages and disadvantages of trimesters balanced out, so it was undecided if they liked or disliked this change. One of the main things they’re split on is how classes are shorter now, but you do get to take more of them.
Assistant Principal Angela Folch said the trimesters were chosen because they best fit the five criteria set forth by the school board. This criteria was to “increase instructional time in the core areas, increase the number of elective courses available for students, provide time for consistent PLC meeting times, add intervention and enrichment time within the schedule, and allow schedule consistency between the high school and the middle school.
“We formed a committee that visited several different area schools that all had varying schedules,” Ms. Folch explained. “After careful consideration, a trimester system was determined the best choice to meet the school board criteria and also in the best interests of our students.
Students who didn’t like the trimesters were also asked if there was anything the school could change to make it better for them.
“I don’t really like it,” Mady Klein, junior, stated.  “There’s not enough classes people want to take, so they end up having to take classes they aren’t interested in.  Get more fun classes.”
More electives were given this year, but some are filling up much faster than others.  This happened in the old semester system as well, but select students believed the problem could be solved by adding a greater variety of electives.
Michaela Trutna, Clare Adams and Jackie Bell, all juniors, thought the school should add the block days back into the schedule.
Block days gave students around 90 minutes of class time per class, and it would be split into two days.  These days allowed for students to have more time with the teacher to work on projects, labs, or get caught up on homework.
“There’s not enough time,” Jackie explained, “I need block days.”  Michaela and Clare agreed with this statement.
“In all honesty,” Michael Loeffler said, “it’s as good and as bad as it is going to get.  There isn’t much that can be done to improve it.”
Students are presently working through their second trimester. Things at BLHS are beginning to run a bit smoother now then everyone has some more experience with the change.


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