CHS removes communication course graduation requirement beginning 2020-2021 school year

Rhea Acharya

Senior Grace Reisinger tutors during SRT on Feb. 12. Reisinger helped tutor by peer editing a research essay.

CHS will drop the current speech and debate graduation requirement beginning next school year, according to Assistant Principal Valerie Piehl.

Piehl said this requirement has always been CHS specific, not mandated by the state of Indiana. She said Indiana requires school districts to provide a good combination of instruction in literature, non-fiction, reading and speaking throughout a student’s high school years; however, they don’t need to have focused classes in those areas.

Piehl added that a recent evaluation of the district’s literacy program prompted this change, as it showed parents and students were looking for more choices in English classes. The school then cut the communications requirement in an effort to encourage students to take other English electives they might be more interested in.

Senior Grace Reisinger, who took etymology as an elective class in her sophomore year and had planned to take biblical literature as an elective this semester before dropping it to free up her schedule, said she thinks the requirement removal will accomplish this goal.

Reisinger said not having this speech and debate requirement would have allowed her to take a different English elective, L202.

“If I didn’t have to take a speech credit, I probably would not have taken AP Capstone Research and would have taken other English classes like L202,” Reisinger said. “I took AP Capstone Research because it counts as my speech credit and L202 did not.” Piehl said the school has received positive feedback from English teachers regarding this decision.

She said, “(The teachers) really seemed to like the change, as now they can offer more choices to students and maybe try to also find classes that would be the best fit for students.”

English teacher Amanda Richmond said she thinks public speaking is a valuable skill for students to learn whether they do so in a speech class or through other means.

Richmond said, “Everyone needs to know how to be comfortable speaking even to small groups—maybe not huge public venues, but we have a society that’s so bent on technology that we don’t really speak to one another. We also have a society that’s really bent on not communicating and really just yelling our points. So, (in) P155, the goal is really that you listen and that you speak in order to appeal in some ways to hostile people who don’t want to listen.”

Reisinger agreed and added that students can learn this skill through any English class at CHS.

She said, “We do presentations and public speaking in every English class in high school. Taking speech is really nice and can be really cool because you can learn all the actual techniques. But I think that if you just need to learn how to speak in front of a group of people, any English class here will do that for you because all the classes are so big that you get that experience talking in front of a group of people.”

Despite speech not being required, Richmond acknowledged that students might choose to take P155 for potential college credit and thinks many students will still to enroll in it.

“You can get credit through IU for taking P155,” Richmond said. “It’s an awesome way to get cheap credit from IU so why not? If you have any interest in going to an in-state college, then P155 is a good choice for you.”

Reisinger, Piehl and Richmond agreed that with this change, it’s easier for students to explore English electives more interesting to them than communications classes without having to “double up” on English classes.

“We require students to take eight credits in English,” Piehl said. “We keep some pretty strict limits on seven of those, so we want to open up a little more options for the eighth credit to our students, knowing that (all English classes offered) are all some pretty great classes.”