By LCHS Associate Principal, Jim Cartnal
Although second semester is just weeks old, and 2017 is still in its beginning months, LCHS counselors and students are busy thinking about selecting classes for academic year 2017-18. Starting on January 31 and running through early March, students in grades 8-11 will select their classes for next year.
This year, students will select their classes online, by logging on to the Aeries student portal. Students received a series of important emails that described how to access the Aeries student portal and select their classes. Students also will hear or have heard presentations from LCHS counselors about this process. These course selection lessons are taking place in the students’ English classes.
In addition to selecting classes online, the counselors also explained that the students must complete the paper Course Selection Contract and bring this to the student’s one on one appointment with the counselors. These one on one meetings are taking place in the Informational Resource Center during the period of the day the student has English class. During these one on one meetings, the student and counselor discuss course prerequisites, revisit the student’s four year plan, discuss whether the student intends to take a summer school course, and talk about whether the schedule the student has selected allows for balance, sleep, downtime, family time, and playtime - key concepts associated with the Challenge Success learnings that I have described in earlier entries in this newsletter.
The counselors look forward to seeing students during the one on one appointments. For each grade level, the one on one appointments will take place during the following times: Current 11th grade students: Week of Feb 6 - 10, current 10th grade students: Week of Feb 21 - 24, current 9th grade students: Week of Mar 6 - 10, current 8th grade students: Week of Mar 20 - 23. This means that as students go to Spring break, we should have the vast majority of student course selection choices. This will allow LCHS administration to begin to build the master schedule of classes for 2017-18, a process that will continue throughout early summer 2017.
In support of the course selection process, the LCHS counseling department shared several new and important resources that students and parents were asked to review. First among these is the revised Course Catalog. The LCHS counseling department sought to create a college-like course catalog that includes brief course descriptions of each class, policies that regard course selection, and a clickable table of contents that we hope makes the document more easy to navigate. I encourage you to look at this revised document and send me feedback regarding its readability, ease to navigate, and degree of detail. From this, we want to learn what additional information our students and families would wish for us to share to make the course selection process function effectively. You can view the Course Catalog by visiting the LCHS website, clicking on Counseling, then Course Registration, then Course Registration Overview. You can also view a brief introductory video that describes some big ideas that we wish students to consider when selecting classes.
Beyond viewing the Course Catalog, we also asked each student to complete the Time Estimator Worksheet. This document comes out of our learnings from Challenge Success and asks students to carefully consider and input the many demands upon their time. Our creation of this document comes from a realization that some of our students were selecting classes with homework demands and engaging in co- and extra-curricular activities that resulted in them having more to do than there were hours in the week. Since each week has only 168 hours in it, and 35 of the hours are spent in classes, this means that when our students began to tally the homework time, practice time, and the time associated with other key commitments, they were doing school and activities that exceeded 168 hours. What has become apparent to teachers, counselors, and administrators at LCHS is that some students have begun to sacrifice sleep, downtime, family time, and play time to make their demanding schedules work. While perhaps the short term sacrifice of rest in our busy modern age is a strategy that adults turn to, increasingly students are sacrificing sleep, rest, and relaxation, and this has begun, for some, to negatively impact their resiliency, efficacy, and sense of confidence.
Students have a variety of resources that are designed to help them select classes. First, should they need assistance with the Aeries portal account, we ask that students first try logging in with an incognito window and confirm that they are using the right Google account and password. If students still need help, we ask that they email firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the Help Lab on campus during break, lunch, or after school. The counselors and administration are also able to help. Since the counselors are meeting almost each day with students during the course selection season, they ask that students compile questions and bring these to the one on one appointment. If additional time is needed, the counselor will schedule a follow up appointment to ensure that the student’s questions get answered.
My hope for all of our students is that they select course schedules that are rigorous but balanced. This means selecting areas of study for which the student is genuinely interested and perhaps taking an honors or Advanced Placement level in that subject area appropriate to the student’s four year plan and post secondary plans. This also means being mindful that time is a finite resource and that sleep is essential for the well-being of our teenagers, and that each person needs downtime, play time, and family time to rejuvenate and ready themselves to tackle the rigors of their courses. We know they will select wisely and hope that our students dialogue with parents and guardians about the course selections they made and how they actively plan to manage their time and schedule moving forward.
I wish each of our Spartans the very best for a great close to this school year and a brilliant 2017-18.