By Henry Zhu
Though most students take a prerequisite class before becoming a part of the Pinnacle Yearbook, junior Nimisha Kumar never did. Instead, Kumar directly entered onto the Pinnacle staff her freshman year.
“I was on yearbook as a freshman even though I obviously didn’t take any of the beginning classes,” Kumar said. “My older sister was an editor then and she asked the teacher if I could be an SRT-only member of yearbook for my freshman year.”
Kumar’s situation may be unusual, but it is hardly a unique case. The 2011-2012 Carmel High School Program of Studies states that students here are allowed to bypass certain classes provided they have “teacher approval.”
While she can permit students to skip prerequisite classes like Kumar did, yearbook adviser Nicole Wilson said it was not something she would recommend for the large majority of students.
“Though there will always be exceptions, in general I believe that the prerequisite serves an important role and that students should not skip those classes,” Wilson said. “(Kumar) has done really well in her years on staff, but I think it would be best for the yearbook staff in general if everyone came through with at least some background knowledge of how a journalism staff works.”
According to freshman counselor Rachel Cole, the school-wide policy is for students to take the prerequisite before going on to more advanced classes. Cole said she generally believes it is a good idea for freshmen especially to take prerequisites.
“Students can contact department chairs if they are interested in skipping out of particular classes, but as the school in general follows the prerequisite guidelines,” Cole said. “Classes that have a prerequisite have it for a reason, and I really don’t know when it would be a good idea for freshmen to waive past prerequisite classes.”
Kumar said she understands why some teachers follow the prerequisite guidelines, as many of the challenges she faced during her first year on staff were due to her lack of experience. She said that, even though she had taken journalism in middle school, she initially felt overwhelmed by the workload of being on yearbook staff.
“Eventually I managed to get the hang of writing stories and reporting for the Pinnacle after a while, but there were a lot of things I wasn’t familiar with at first,” Kumar said. “I had to stay after school every once in a while because of the time crunch, and it put a lot more stress on me as a freshman than I had expected.”
Freshman Hyesoo Chae, who, like Kumar, waived past a prerequisite class for orchestra, said she had similar troubles adjusting to her advanced-level class at first.
She said, “I was a little nervous about what high school orchestra would be like at first and the tests have been really stressful, but I think I’m getting used to it now and I feel more comfortable in the class.”
As for Kumar, she said she doesn’t regret not taking the prerequisite despite the difficulties she faced.
“Being on yearbook was difficult at first, but I don’t regret not taking the beginning class,” Kumar said. “I feel like that first year where had to learn everything while doing it helped me learn more than I would’ve in a regular class.”