Extracurricular Freetime Backfires
Students unable to graduate after being at school too much
A Nebraskan high school is facing backlash after students refuse to leave for student-voted free period
At Beachside High in Kearney, Nebraska, several seniors will be unable to graduate this year after failing an experimental off-period class recommended by the student body last year. The class was approved by Principal Frank Dean, the head administrator at Beachside, late last June in order to give students a chance to take care of off-campus duties.
"It seemed simple enough," said Dean "the students needed an extracurricular credit, but we just didn't have those kinds of resources here on campus, so we gave them free range to find work or entertainment off-campus, as long as they brought back a log of where they'd been and didn't get in trouble with the law." But the program backfired greatly after an overwhelmingly negative response by the students.
"The whole thing is stupid," comments senior Travis Young, "the administration just doesn't understand the youth today. We told them we didn't want to go to school any more, but they made us not go to school any more. They can't do that!"
In an attempt to protest the class, Young and several of his friends defiantly stayed seated in their 6th period classes, instead of transitioning to their 7th period off-campus leisure. In an interview with The Weakly Herald's Patrick Hughes, the boys' 6th period teacher, Mrs. Sandoval, described Young and his friends' actions as "odd" and "weird": "They just kind of sat there," she explained, "I don't have a 7th period, so sometimes I would leave to go home after I finished my work, but they would just sit there, looking out the windows at their friends outside."
Dean Dean, who is also the school sponsor for the activity, is responsible for the boys grades in the class, which is where the trouble arises. "The agreement was that if they leave, they get a 100, but [the students] apparently couldn't do that, so they failed my class and can't graduate." All but one of Travis Young's friends failed with zeroes in the grade book, dropping the students below the number of credits required for their diplomas. One student, however, nearly earned a passing grade, finishing with a 60. Charlie Romanov, a new student from St. Louis, explains his predicament: "I moved from Missouri on the second to last week of school and then I got really sick. Mr. Dean kept giving me hundreds while I was gone, so I had to show up sick on the last couple of days so that I could fail."
School district superintendent Karen Reynolds says that the students will not be given any sort of immunity from their grade retention, but that the unethical program will be shut down to prevent any future conflicts and that the student body at Kearney ISD schools will no longer be permitted to vote on academic endeavors at the school.
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