Students decide if unweighted classes, co-curriculars worth the time

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By: Maria Lamagna <mlamagna@hilite.org>

It’s a typical week, and senior Blake Koness is worn out. Between his involvement in Ambassadors, Greyhound Connections, New World Youth Symphony Orchestra, voice lessons, dance classes and homework, he does not have much time to waste. With Ambassadors alone, he said that he usually spends eight hours every week.

So when scheduling his senior classes last year, Koness said he had a difficult decision to make and numerous questions to ask himself. Was his involvement in choir worth the hours he would have to put in outside of class?

“Last year I was really close to not (participating in choir),” he said. “It was really time-consuming.”

Koness’s decision was like that of many students when scheduling. Many of the classes this school offers, including orchestra, marching band, choir and Pinnacle, require students to expend effort and time outside of class. This commitment could discourage some students from participating in the classes, especially since many of them receive no extra credits or weight on transcripts.

According to counselor Bettina Cool, many students evaluate outside-of-class obligations when scheduling. However, she said they are usually not discouraged by the potential time commitment.

“I think the kids who are doing (the classes) are really committed and want to take them anyway,” she said. Additionally, Cool said students who sign up for the classes are “passionate enough” to spend the time, even if their extracurricular effort doesn’t show up on their transcripts.

In some cases, students do receive credit for time they spend outside of class. For example, those who participate in jazz band (an activity that occurs only outside class time) receive half of a credit on their transcripts. This is in addition to the regular credit they receive for participating in band.

Cool said that she is not completely sure why some students who take time-consuming classes receive no extra weight or credits for them.

“Ultimately, it’s a school board decision,” she said. “They decide if new classes will be weighted or not.”

Koness ended up deciding that he would, in fact, participate in Ambassadors again during his senior year. According to him, his involvement allows him to reap many benefits, even if they don’t come in the form of extra weights or credits.

“I decided that I wanted to (participate in choir) because of social reasons, being with my friends and feeling connected to other people. Also, it helps me improve my performance skills,” he said.

In some ways, Koness pointed out, participation in time-consuming classes does actually manifest itself on high school transcripts for college.

“It’s always good to be involved for college and for scholarship opportunities,” he said.

Furthermore, involvement in certain courses gives some students points toward the Distinguished Graduate program which began this year.

Cool listed many other positive aspects of being involved in classes which require time spent outside of school. She said that, when involved in these classes, students are able to follow their passion and establish camaraderie along the way. Also, they may improve their time-management skills and consequently perform better academically in the long run.

This school also offers several weighted performing arts classes, such as those that are part of the IB program. Students who participate in these classes receive full weight for them on their transcripts.

The deadline to make scheduling changes is March 1. Students should know that the policy of weighting or giving extra credits for these classes will probably not change any time in the near future.

For the time being, Koness will complete his participation in Ambassadors this year. Though he said he knows that it helps him in many ways, he said, “I definitely think the high-caliber, high-effort classes should receive weight. You have to work really hard in them.”

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