Students protest changes to senior AP classes

Lena Kogan, Staff Writer

Earlier this school year, administrators enacted a policy requiring seniors to attend AP classes after the AP exams. This was greeted with immediate opposition, as students worried that there would not be sufficient time to complete their senior experience projects. After many students expressed and discussed their discontent in a private Facebook group open to all seniors, some took the initiative to voice their opposition to this new policy.

Within a few days of the policy’s reveal, senior Elana Galassi drew up a petition with the intent of going to a Board of Education meeting. The petition includes quotes from past and current seniors to demonstrate the senior class’ protest and attempt to negotiate with the administration, and contains over 150 signatures. However, because of the disruption created by Hurricane Sandy, Galassi and seniors Tamara Hoffman and Salia Hovenac met with Principal Mr. Ira Pernick on Nov. 16.

“I spoke to Mr. Pernick to discuss his ideas for this petition, because while many were uncertain of what the rule would entail, the grade wanted to express their attitude towards the rule. The goal of the senior experience is to give students a unique opportunity to pursue something valuable for their future, even if it was something outside of our community, which could be hindered by the policy,” said Galassi.

However, in the past, there had been incidents when students were excused from class, and didn’t do any work related to their project.

“Although it is a valid point, I do not see this problem with the class of 2013,” said Galassi. “If students need to be excused from class, they will need to prove that they are serious about their project, providing evidence such as a written proposal and signature. The process is about being able to pursue something outside of school that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.”

The petition asserted that the opportunity to get time out of class for senior experience should be afforded to all students that demand the extra time, not just AP students.

“We believed it would be a very beneficial experience for all of us, regardless of how many hours, giving people the opportunity to do something really unique and special even if it meant leaving class for it,” said Galassi.

“The central question of the petition is the release time and students being released from AP classes after AP exams to go and do senior experience as we had done last year,” said Mr. Pernick. “We met to discuss and relieve any sort of fear that because there was no release time that students could still go out and pursue the most unique experiences they could possibly find. The administration wants the students to find the most meaningful experience that they can find, none of that is connected to release time.”

The administration and students are planning to continue to work together to create solutions to any problems with working on the senior experience, and allow seniors to create a memorable project, no matter their interest.

“It always poses some difficulty,” said Mr. Pernick. “We created a program that allows students to go and pursue something, but if we can help them create an experience that they’re never going to forget that’s an okay sacrifice. We try to create flexibility and we’re prepared for that.”

The school is willing to negotiate students leaving school earlier in the year, before AP exams, for their senior experience, if they present a realistic case for themselves.

“We came to a mutual understanding that really it comes down to the individual student,” said Galassi. “If someone really wants to leave class for a unique and special opportunity, they can do that.”

“To attain release hours from school, it must be written in your proposal when you need them, as well as why you would need them,” Galassi said in the aforementioned Facebook group. “If there are students here, AP or not, that need release hours, both Mr. Craig Weiss and Mr. Pernick seemed very amicable and agreeable in terms of what they would allow.”

However, many students still responded with negative feelings about attending class after AP exams.

“I thought the whole goal of the senior experience was to do something meaningful that you’re passionate about, and for some students that means branching out from the confines of the school,” said senior Delia van Praag. “I’m unsure about the new rule. At the beginning of the year, one of my AP teachers stated that besides senior experience projects, we would primarily be watching movie and relaxing as most AP classes do after they’ve finished the curriculum. It seems as if many seniors would benefit from using this time for their projects, no matter what the topic is about.”