by Emma Fitzhugh | staff writer

With the fall semester drawing to a close, the second semester provides students with the opportunity to adjust their schedule if they would like. Whether it’s changing to a different extracurricular, dropping an AP class, or registering to take a course online, there are various schedule changes that could potentially be made.

However, this particular semester seemed to give rise to several students wanting to drop the same AP class at the same time- with not enough classes to accommodate these students.

“You’re specifically talking about government. Yeah, that was primarily the one. There was just an influx in numbers and so what was originally in the system- there was a higher number of students who had enrolled in Government AP than when they [originally planned],” lead counselor Courtney Tarbox said.

Yet despite the fact that many seniors were once enrolled in this course, Tarbox went on to say how at the beginning of the spring semester, there were simply more seniors who wanted to drop AP Government than there were regular government courses available to accommodate these students.

“And you know there were different, various reasons maybe they wanted to drop that [AP Government], and then when they dropped that it did increase our numbers in regular government. And so then we [counselors] made the decision to go ahead and collapse one of the AP classes to combine them so then there could be lower numbers overall for government,” Tarbox said.

While it is typical for students to try and drop an advanced course, collapsing an entire class is not typically how the counselors resolve conflicts regarding schedule changes, according to Tarbox.

“I mean there were drops; there could be some drops. The times when you can drop an AP course, if a student really struggled in the fall semester, and if their teachers and the student and the parent have discussions and decide it may be best to go to a regular level class, then they can do that at semester,” Tarbox said. “Typically that’s done, usually even in December, so they automatically start out in that class. So the only class we really had to actually collapse one and create another class was really just government.”

Tarbox went on to say how as a result of the AP government situation, the counselors have now come up with a plan to hopefully provide juniors with a few more choices when it comes to choosing their history class for next year.

“We’ve seen a trend in that, and that’s why we’ve actually made an adjustment this year. We’ve let our students that are selecting their senior schedules to let us know, or if we just saw that in their course selection they had selected one AP class of the government and the economics, we prioritize that and put that AP class in the fall for them, because we knew that would be a priority for them,” Tarbox said.

With this system, Tarbox explains how instead of seniors not knowing which semester they will be taking Government/Macroeconomics, whichever class is the AP level course would be taken in the fall semester.

“But we are going to try something a little bit different this year and basically take a request that if a student wants to have, if they’re only taking one of those AP level, then we would put that in the fall,” Tarbox said. “Hopefully to help alleviate and not have a situation like we did this year.”

As for this year, with the collapse of an entire AP government class, a handful of seniors still had to have their schedules adjusted.

“No, no, no, no we really tried to only move students, really try to keep it with their same teacher if we had to move a class. Anytime we are faced with those really tough situations of trying to level classes for the better for all, we really try to minimize the effects on individual schedule changes,” Tarbox said. “So we really do look through and try to make changes to those that can be civil changes- keep them with the same teacher maybe just flip-flopping a class is what we always try to do first before we make multiple changes to a student’s schedule.”

However, for senior Morgan Gardner, dropping her AP Government class caused more changes to her schedule than just “flip-flopping” classes.

“So I switched out of AP Government and so at first they [counselor] just switched me into like this regular government class first period which is when I had Macro. And then like a few weeks later, they started switching my whole schedule around,” Gardner said. “And so now I have like two; none of my classes are really the same from whenever I first started at the beginning of the year, which kinda is really- that was not too fun.”

Having already been accepted to Texas A&M University, taking AP courses her second semester wasn’t something Gardner necessarily had to do, yet the decision to drop her government class after “about a week” proved to be a popular request.

“Well I went to go to talk to her [counselor] and she just said it was because there were too many people in some of the regular classes because like, every senior was dropping out,” Gardner said. “So they said they had just a huge overflow of kids, and they do every year, so they just kicked me out of my other class and now I’m in a fourth period regular government class who’s taught by Coach Griffith. I don’t think he’s ever taught regular before.”

Not only did her government class and teacher change, but Gardner went on to say how her Healthy Lifestyles teacher also changed.

“Well, whenever they switched me, since I’m a senior in Healthy Lifestyles because I didn’t take it my freshman year because I was doing all my other stuff, I had Coach A to begin with at the beginning of the year and now I have Coach Desmarais. I kept my same English teacher but obviously I changed teachers for government. So I mean yeah, that was basically it. But I did get switched around,” Gardner said.

Even though she had planned out her senior schedule not knowing whether Government or Macroeconomics would come first, seniors typically just drop one of the courses, according to Gardner.

Morgan Gardner, 12

Even though juniors can plan out their senior schedule, it is still uncertain which AP class will come first, either Macroeconomics or Government, according to senior Morgan Gardner.

“The only problem with that, like you can plan to do that, but you don’t know if you’re going to have Macro first or government first, so we [seniors] just sign up for both AP because whatever they put on your schedule first you just end up dropping down for the second semester,” Gardner said. “So you’re never sure which you’ll have first. And I don’t know if you can tell them, like, ‘I want government first,’ or, ‘I want Macro first.’ I mean I’m sure you could, but I don’t think anyone really wanted to go talk to them about that.”

Ironically, when Gardner had officially dropped her AP government class, several of her peers seemed to follow suit.

“Six kids dropped it by the time Morgan started leaving; there was like six other people going too. I’m still in the AP class- it has a lot less kids now,” senior Krislynn (Krissy) Morgan said.

It seems as though seniors weren’t the only students who had their schedule adjusted at the beginning of the semester, however, according to junior Bella Dilallo.

“The counselor tried to keep it [schedule] as uniform as possible, so she tried to keep the same teachers that I had, but she couldn’t keep that with my history class, so I went to a separate new history class. But my physics class was the same teacher just a different period, so not too much of a change,” Dilallo said.

Dilallo went on to say how her history and physics class periods were switched, as well as how she eventually got adjusted to her new U.S. History class.

“Yeah, so the way she [new History teacher] taught was different, and some teachers are usually a little bit faster or slower than each other, so I was trying to like, see where everyone was at and just try to just do the work day by day and then like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m starting to connect the two,” Dilallo said. “I mean I know a lot of people who are moving around in Physics, either cause they were dropping the AP or they had something else to do with their schedule. And then in my new history class there was a lot of people who were dropping from AP.”

However, it might not be time to panic yet, because for those students who still need to adjust their schedule for next year: there is still time to make changes.

“Students still have that opportunity; through June 4 they can make changes to their course selections, and if a student is deciding maybe they don’t want to take an AP level of one of those senior social studies, they can come and see their counselor and they can make that change for next year,” Tarbox said.

With two different semesters, AP courses, and numerous electives, schedule changes are happening almost all the time, yet the challenge lies in adjusting schedules without having too many changes, according to Tarbox.

“It’s hard because when you’re faced with that situation where a student wants to drop from an AP to a regular then you’re faced with trying to put them in a regular class that’s already full. The master schedule is this huge puzzle that we try to work with,” Tarbox said.

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About The Author

Emma Fitzhugh is a senior at Johnson, and this is her third year writing for MyJagNews. She is also an Editor-in-Chief, the ASL Club President, and Vice President of NEHS (yay language arts!). You may also know her as Seth's sister. Emma also finds joy in her 11 year old dog named Sydney, and her black and gray cat appropriately dubbed Alexander Supertramp who is equally fat and happy. She is very excited about being an Editor this year, and hopes that the new staff members aren't scared of her insanely long comments.

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