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The Current

Small school prompts schedule mishaps

Many students opted to submit schedule changes during the first week of school. Photo by Kirsten Briscoe.

Students spend an astounding six hours a day, five days a week at school to gain basic knowledge on their path to the future. Planning ahead while in high school is crucial to student success in the long run. So, when schedules were released before school began, confusion ran amuck among the student body, as many believed mistakes were present within their class line-up.

However, according to Bear River’s counselors, Mary Buhr and Cindy Henry-Grimm, these “mistakes” students were claiming weren’t mistakes in their eyes.

“There actually wasn’t a lot of mistakes in student schedules,” stated Ms. Henry-Grimm. “We found maybe six or eight that were actually mistakes. The rest were all because they changed their mind, they didn’t remember signing up for that class, or they didn’t really want that teacher.”

Mrs. Buhr explained the most common instances she and Ms. Henry-Grimm came across.

“We can’t tell you how many students kept at us saying, ‘you don’t understand, I have to have both classes,’” she said. “And we kept on saying, ‘they’re both offered at the same time. You can’t take both classes.’ … We had back and forths with kids who just couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that if AP Calculus is offered here and the class I want is offered here, I can’t be in both classrooms at the same time.”

This year, the schedule mishaps seemed to be more prominent than in recent years. This may be due to students exaggerating their schedule problems, though, as the counselors described, this schedule mishap wasn’t at the fault of human error on their part. 

However, multiple students commented on their schedule issues.

“Well, I was placed in Choir when I never signed up for it,” stated Geneva Hemmert, a junior. “And I was taking the wrong English class.”

“So, I actually got all the classes I wanted, but I have two classes online,” said Senior Grace Billingsley. “I have English and math classes online, so they had to drop me from the English class that was on my schedule so they can put me online. But, I still don’t have the online classes yet.”

“I realized too late that I needed a class for football,” said Sophomore Ryder Holcomb. “So, I had to change that.”

“I had my backup ones, instead of my regular classes,” said Grace Pratt, a freshman. “But then later, like a week and a half after school, I got that changed. But I declined it. Because I was settled in my classes … It was a little nerve wracking for me [as a freshman] because … those classes weren’t the ones I wanted and it was a different environment … It took a few days of getting used to.”

With Pratt, the likely reason to receiving her alternative classes could be the effect of conflicting classes. Ms. Henry-Grimm further explained this problem.

“One of the great things about our small school is that we’ve been able to keep as many electives as we have, because those are the first things that go when there’s a budget cut,” she said. “The way we’ve done that … is that we can only offer one section of classes … So, when we’re doing the schedules we have fifty or sixty singleton classes … but if we average that over six periods, that’s at least ten classes are going to conflict because there is just no other way to do that. There’s no good way around that.”

With the piles of schedule changes submitted to the counselors, some are still waiting for their schedules to change. Mrs. Buhr commented on how she and Ms. Henry-Grimm were managing the problem.

“We both came back the fifth of August and we immediately hit the ground,” she said. “… I got home that night, probably around five or so, and all of a sudden, my Bear River email just started blowing up because the schedule had just been released. I didn’t have anything at home to be able to answer them, so when I came in again on Tuesday morning, there was just a deluge of emails and my phone messages, I believe I got forty phone messages in those first couple days before school even started.”

As a result of these complaints, Ms. Buhr explained that she attempted to resolve problems as they came across her desk, though “it came to a point where I had a stack and I had to do an order.”

With this hiccup at the beginning of the year, many students were left racing to meet with their counselors, flooding the office on the first day of school. Hemmert described how she felt with the mishap.

“It can be frustrating, because it makes everything a hassle at the beginning of the year,” she said. “But I also I feel a part of the frustration is feeling bad about bugging the counselors so much when you want it to be done.” 

Holcomb acknowledged the stress that was placed on the counselor’s shoulders for the past few weeks.

“There’s only a couple counselors,” he said. “I know that they’re doing their best.”

As this is probably not the first year with many complications in student schedules, Billingsley described what could be done in the future to prevent another similar situation.

“Honestly, I think the main issue is that we need more counselors,” she said. “300 students per counselor is just too many. I think we should probably have four counselors. Unless they can fix that, then there’s not a whole lot that we can do.” 

Most Advanced Placement classes at Bear River include assigned summer homework. This was an issue Hemmert came across in the midst of this ordeal as she was promised that she would be in AP Language and Composition. However, with her original schedule, she was taken out of the class after she finished most of the summer homework. She commented on how the process to form schedules could be changed based on her experiences.

“I think it’s really easy to say what I think can change, but I’ve never had to make schedules for hundreds of kids before, so I really can’t say,” she said. “However, if I could say anything, I’d say that those in charge of the master scheduling should at least make sure that there’s enough room for the classes that are promised to kids throughout the year before they promise them.” 

Hemmert said that she thought that that the master schedule was at fault for her troubles. However, Mrs. Buhr explained how the master scheduling works. 

“The master schedule is made based on what the students request,” she said. “… When we choose to offer a class, and then students change their mind, that makes that class dwindle down in number and that makes other people unhappy that the class they wanted wasn’t offered … Sometimes being able to see how all of those dominoes fall is difficult, you have to have the global picture of how it all works out.”

Another issue many seniors came across this year was the misunderstanding that they wouldn’t be receiving first priority for schedule changes this year. Ms. Henry-Grimm described what the councilors meant with this statement.

“We had been deluged, which is a great thing, with a bunch of new incoming students,” she said. “But we had to get them schedules first, but then after that, seniors would have priority.”

Billingsley voiced her beliefs with this new idea despite the popular belief among some seniors.

“I think it’s partially true,” she said. “What I heard is that new students get priority because they don’t have any classes, and then seniors get priority. So we do get priority, but new students come first.”

Ms. Henry-Grimm voiced her thoughts about this ordeal.

“It’s our job and we don’t mind it,” she said. “We understand, because we were young once; we do understand that sometimes you forget what you ask for, and we get that and that’s okay. We do our best to make sure we can try to fix that, but we can’t always fix that.”

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Small school prompts schedule mishaps