Reduced schedules for seniors come to sudden end

Seniors now required to carry a full course load their entire senior year


Emilie DeWeese

In past years when seniors took reduced schedules, the senior hallway was empty. That will not be the case second semester.

After much deliberation, Gibson Southern High School administrative staff decided to alter the policies in place that allowed senior Gibson Southern students to have a reduced schedule to finish their final semester. This decision was made toward the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year. The objective of it was to remain in compliance with the Department of Education‘s requirements for high school students, among other legal reasons.

“It’s really a Department of Education issue,” Gibson Southern Superintendent Bryan Perry said. “Compulsory education requires that a student is in school all day, every day unless they are in some kind of educational program. So, therefore, it really is not an option for us. A person can’t just leave at 11 o’clock and go home and catch up on Netflix or something like that. That’s really where it comes from, is trying to remain compliant with the DOE.”

Previously, students who did not opt to take an internship, tech school or another work-based learning program were allowed to come and go from the school, so long as they were present for the few classes they were taking. Now, students are required to complete an entire full school day.

“I know when I went to school, that wasn’t an issue,” Perry said. “A person could get out if they only needed two classes, but they have changed those rules now.”

Students can choose to take an internship or work-based program, which lasts three periods of the school day. They are then required to stay in the high school for the other four periods of the day. Students not taking one of these programs must have a full seven-period schedule at the high school.

“The internship can take up to three periods,” Gibson Southern counselor Kelley Asay said. “So, that means kids have to be scheduled in the building for four periods. That’s probably the big difference. Most people would have taken two classes in the building. The kids that would have been just finishing up will have to take two more classes here. There are some that chose to not do an internship and just take classes here all day.”

The increase in classes that seniors must take will likely have a major impact on the number of students in various types of classes. This may also be the case for internships. The Gibson Southern counselors predict that the number of students taking higher-advanced classes, electives and internships will rise.

“Some may decide to stay at school so that they do not have to take an internship,” Gibson Southern counselor Mark Rohrer said. “I think that would increase our AP or dual credit numbers, or some of the other options that we offer throughout the school day here at Gibson Southern High School, and not necessarily the work-based learning program. Maybe we could see some of those numbers increase in our upper-level classes rather than students either leaving early or coming later, depending on when their internship is.”

Kyle Runyan is the teacher in charge of the internship class, which means that he will experience the increase in students firsthand. In turn, he will likely have a higher workload due to having to document more students in their internships.

“The numbers are going to be a lot higher, which is fine by me,” Runyan said. “It’s just a lot more work. That’s what I get paid to do anyways. It’s going to have a positive impact, I think. The opportunity to be able to go work at an actual job or go to an internship that they normally wouldn’t do is only going to benefit them in the long run.”

There are several things that the administration is putting in place to compensate for more students being in the building for a longer period of time. There is a new work-based learning course being offered under the instruction of Gibson Southern teacher Ryan Osborne. This class will include time to complete coursework for work-based learning and things like resume writing and guidance for job applications. There will also be educational speakers brought in to discuss future and career-related topics. In addition, the counselors and other administrators are constantly putting their brains together to come up with new electives for the students to take.

“[Electives are] something that we are always discussing, in terms of trying to come up with classes that not only students would want to take but also what our teachers would want to teach and think that the students would be interested in,” Rohrer said. “We are always brainstorming, talking with the guidance counselors, the administrators [and] the faculty just to see what ideas are out there that are of interest to the students.”

Despite not being much of an actual decision and more of an obligation for the administration, many of the staff members at Gibson Southern believe that it will only be beneficial for seniors.

“I know that a lot of them did not like it at first,” Asay said. “However, I really think that it is probably beneficial for seniors. I think that it will help with the quote ‘senioritis’ that often happens because it was really easy to quit and give up when you are taking two classes. But now that they are responsible for five classes, or really up to six hours worth of classes, I think that will really make a big difference for them. I also really think for students who are planning to go to college after high school, having a full schedule helps prepare them more for making that jump.”

Most Gibson Southern seniors, despite it being a surprising change for some of them, also do not seem to mind the switch. In fact, most would agree that it did not have that much of an impact on them. A good majority did not have much of a change in their schedule.

“I really don’t think that it’s a big deal that they took it out,” senior Bradyn Epperson said. “I mean, obviously it kind of stinks, but I don’t think it’s a big deal. They did the right thing.”

For those who did have a schedule change, there was some disappointment.

“I personally did not have a reduced schedule second semester, but I know a lot of kids that did and I know that they were very disappointed,” senior Macade Chandler said.

Despite some confusion, most seniors understand why the decision was made.

“I think I understand the decision that they made but I also think it’s really hard for some seniors,” senior Sydney Long said. “They had a plan and now that plan has kind of gone out the window.”

While seniors and other students are willing to learn to accept the change, there are some that wish there was still the option to take a reduced schedule available.

“I think [the corporation] could base it off of grades and attendance rather than just getting rid of it,” senior Kyle Stunkel said. “Like, if you have the grades and attendance you need to graduate, just let [us] take a reduced schedule. But, if we don’t, then you can make us stay.”