The 2019-2020 school year introduced a new class to the curriculum: Freshman Seminar. Since it is new, many in the building don’t know what the purpose of the class is.
“We think of it as a mix between study skills and college information,” said Freshman Seminar teacher Kayla Cooney.
School Level Improvement Coordinator Angela Green Izzo explains its effectiveness.
“Freshman Seminar is a common class offered at many high schools throughout the country. Statistics show that freshmen are more successful during their high school years if they have extra time during the school day to understand the rigorous demands of the school day because it is much different than middle school,” Green Izzo said.
Last year, a similar class, College Readiness, was implemented for juniors. College Readiness was criticized by some for a lack of preparation. Juniors were forced to take it because it was made mandatory by the district. For Freshman Seminar, many aren’t sure if it’s required or not.
“They told us it was mandatory, [but] I don’t think it is; I’ve asked so many 9th graders and they don’t have it,” said freshman Jada Pierpoint.
It turns out that it’s required, but there is an exception to the rule:
“From what I understand, it is mandatory for freshmen, unless they have certain needs where they would have to take a different class, such as Math 180 or Reading 180,” Cooney said. “As far as I know, it will be required if they are able to take it,” Cooney told.
While the teachers say it’s mandatory, administration claims otherwise.
“This class is an elective; however, a counselor and/or administrator may assign it for various reasons,” Green Izzo said.
This contradictory policy has affected some students by limiting their schedules, and therefore, limiting the classes they’d want to take.
“I had Spanish class, but they took me out of it and I’m gonna have to take it another year,” said freshman Annabelle Parmelee.
Since it’s considered an important class, many want to know what’s being taught.
“Its main goal is getting freshmen students more comfortable with the transition between middle school and high school,” said Cooney. “It’s for what was missed or what students have a hard time getting in the first place.”
Additionally, Green Izzo sent the course description for the class.
“Students will learn study/organizational skills, time management, and academic skills in order to improve academic success and additionally will be provided with an array of skills and tools to enhance engagement and success in high school,” the document described.
Many appreciate some of the lesson plans.
“It’s pretty much life skills. I’ve just learned about Grade Point Averages,” said freshman Christian Brown.
Others, though, have shown disdain for the class’s activities.
“Today? We did nothing. We watched a video. It was about graphing. One day they taught us how to log into Synergy. It’s stuff we already know,” said Pierpoint.
Additionally, Pierpoint recounted a previous lesson that had little substance.
“There was one day they didn’t know what to do, so they taught us where we sit during the pep rally,” she said.
While the debate of the necessity of Freshman Seminar continues, Cooney has high hopes for the class.
“I think that just like any other class, there is room for improvement. It’s new and that’s part of [it],” Cooney said. “[We are] adapting it as we go. We communicate with each other. We work with administration. We know it’s not going to be perfect right off the bat. We want to actually make the changes instead of saying ‘well, this is what we’re supposed to do.”’