Is High School Transition Worth It?

Sophie Wojciechowski, Staff Writer

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High School Transition is a class for ninth graders that will help them adjust to high school through study tips, different essay topics, and various presentations and movies. The official class description says it “will include character education, computer skills, and effective study habits.” The class itself has changed since I was a freshman three years ago, but when I took it we did all of these things that were stated in the description and more. We focused on bullying, animal abuse, and dogs in the police force. Now, it has changed to a class with focuses on bullying, social skills, and becoming more comfortable around other people. Mr. Fee, a teacher for the class, thinks the class itself is helpful for certain students who need that transition but not needed by others. Mrs. Botens, who had taught the class for four years, thinks it should be a requirement for all ninth graders so they can learn to be aware about certain things in life.

High School Transition teaches character ed, which is required by the state. Having learned these things in freshman year, they stick with you throughout high school and eventually in life where punishments are much bigger and more drastic. Police officers come in and talk about their dogs and how they find drugs in schools and outside; they also talked about bullying and the effects of it on students; computer skills are taught as well as essay writing; an end of the year speech about what we wanted to do after high school and what we learned throughout the year. Additionally, students now are learning more social skills to be comfortable around people.

Mr. Fee and Mr. Shafer are the teachers for High School Transition this year. I interviewed Nevaeh Peacock, who is in Mr. Shafer’s class, about what they do in the class and her opinions on the class. In the class, they learn about bullying and how to make the school a better and safer place. They started working on social skills and how to interact with people in a comfortable and healthy way. It is one of her favorite classes of the day because it is like a “social hour” while also learning how to learn basic skills for human interaction. She thinks that the class needs no improvement because it does its job, but she would not feel at a disadvantage in high school without it. Heather Becker, who is in my grade, took high school transition says she feels as if the class was just a graded study hall, which is essentially what it still is, except for added activities and homework. Heather said that the class could be better if “it actually taught us things about high school” and showed “that high school is one of the most important things that builds into who you are.”

Evidently, opinions on the class differ greatly. Much of this can be because of the way that the class has changed since both Heather and I took the class, but overall I think it is because some people need the class while others do not. To fix this problem of some people finding it unnecessary where others find it interesting, the class could be made into an elective, or a sort of recommended class, similar to an AIS. For example, if a student believes themselves to be at a disadvantage in high school, they can ask to take the class. Or, if a teacher believes a student to need an aided transition from middle to high school, the student can take it as well. That way, students who find it boring or unhelpful can have a regular study hall and the students who need it can have that help. In addition, we could add certain things to the class so it does not seem like a graded study hall, as many students see it as. Mrs. Bold, the principal of our high school, thinks having High School Transition teach freshman to study or how to cope with stress is a good idea. She even said that it can be done within the next two years. As a junior, both of these things would have been great to learn or even be talked about in school.

Another thing I proposed to the people I interviewed was a “life transition class.” This class would involve learning how to study for college, learning how to manage your time, learn how to balance a checkbook, and how to do basic money dealings that every adult has to do (taxes, down payments, etc.). Consumer math teaches the math aspect of this, but doesn’t talk about any other necessary adult skills. Miss Durland and Mr Cappelletti told me that learning when you’re sick (because you will not have your mom to tell you if you are sick), learning how to manage your time, and learning how to “play the game,” as said by Miss Durland can help immensely for college. Even if we changed or improved the class to include those things would be extremely helpful. Most of my friends think having a class like this would be fun and interesting. Additionally, results from a survey sent out to the high school said that on average 68% of the students would take a class teaching life skills and 83% of teachers deemed it as necessary. High School, overall, does a poor job of preparing the average student for college. Having a class geared towards preparing seniors for college can be extremely influential for that students future.

Overall, High School Transition, like any other class, has good and bad things surrounding it. Fixing the class to include certain things and making it more like a class rather than a graded study hall is a popular opinion of students I have talked to. Newer students do believe that the class should be offered to incoming freshman, so rather than getting rid of the class altogether, we should make it better. To get the “life transition” class, we can also fix consumer math to include everything we need for college as well as life.

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