As the first full week of classes unfolded at Ladysmith Secondary School, a hefty portion of the school’s students was left biding its time as counsellors scrambled to fill in the gaps in students’ timetables.
Course schedules handed out on day one of the new school year failed to meet the needs or expectations of close to half of the school’s students, and the school hasn’t addressed students’ concerns quickly enough, say LSS students.
Grade 11 student Alexa Spanevello said the writing and English literature courses she thought she’d signed up for failed to materialize, a considerable inconvenience in light of her future aspirations.
“I want to be an English teacher when I’m older,” she explained.
Instead of devoting her time to studying Orwell or Shakespeare, Spanevello said she’s found herself in a “placeholder class” that, as of Friday afternoon, had yet to be filled.
When she filled out her course survey last spring, Spanevello said she “definitely thought” that by jotting down her course selections, LSS would deliver the classes she said she needs.
Several friends have found themselves in similar situations, Spanevello said.
“I’ve had a lot of friends that can’t get into the classes that they need,” she added. “For example, my friend needs English 11 before she can take English 12 and they couldn’t put her in an English 11 class this year. She has to do it online because she’s graduating this year, and you need both English 11 and English 12 to graduate.”
The friend Spanevello was referring to is Grace Twedt, a Grade 12 student frustrated by a lack of access to the classes she needs and workarounds she sees as less than ideal.
“I was put into an English 12 class so I went back asking to be put into an English 11 class first semester, and they told me all the classes were full,” Twedt said. “That really upset me because I thought that the students graduating this year would be made a priority.”
She will have to step “outside her comfort zone” in order to earn the credits she needs to graduate, she said.
Twedt described herself as a student who functions best in a classroom setting where she can readily access teacher assistance. Online courses, meanwhile, require a level of self-motivation she finds “really hard,” she said.
“It kind of sucks that I have to take it online now,” Twedt said, “but that’s the only choice I had.”
Adding to students’ frustrations is the fact that face-to-face meetings with counsellors are far harder to come by than they have been in past years, Twedt and Spanevello said, a result of the 300-odd students requiring timetable revisions as of the start of the year.
The school’s new operating procedure has taken the form of a paper exchange, they said. Students submit written requests for revisions then wait to be called to the office to receive their new timetable. Then, if the revision process fails to address an issue, the process begins anew.
Not all LSS students view a revised timetable as an inconvenience, though.
Grade 11 student Nick Mrus said he’s been placed in a study block he had no intention of signing up for.
Upset at first, Mrus said he now uses that time to study for his other courses, meaning “it’s not as much of an inconvenience” as he thought it might be.
Several parents of LSS students were polled regarding the status of their children’s timetables outside LSS Friday afternoon, but none shared the students’ concerns regarding scheduling.