BACK IN SESSION: Changes await students in Washington County's public schools
Smithsburg High will be the first public high school in the county to move to a new class schedule in which math, English Language Arts, science, social studies and foreign language classes will be yearlong
Alicia Rafter, an incoming freshman at Williamsport High School, works on a project during her Foundations of Technology class in July 2012. (By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer / July 27, 2012)
This school year will be filled with other changes, some of which students might like and others, not so much.
Students buying a school meal no longer will have the option of not taking a fruit or vegetable serving, and football players will be eased into preseason workouts by not wearing full gear until the sixth day of practice.
Meritus Medical Center Inc. is expected to start providing school health services for students with the new school year. As this section went to press, negotiations for an agreement between the school system and Meritus were close to being completed. Previously, the Washington County Health Department provided student health services.
Students also can expect to continue to have more writing assignments, to read more nonfiction and to learn to use more primary source materials such as government documents as the school system continues to phase in a new, more rigorous curriculum.
One of the biggest changes will be at Smithsburg High School, which will be the first public high school in the county to move to a new class schedule in which math, English Language Arts, science, social studies and foreign language classes will be yearlong.
Most of the other county high schools’ schedules will change for the 2013-14 school year.
“I’m not really too happy with that,” said Alicia Rafter, an incoming freshman at Williamsport High School. Rafter was one of several students attending summer school to get a head start on credits who were interviewed about the coming changes.
Interested in marching and concert band, Alicia, 14, said she is concerned the schedule change will mean less class time for working on music and marching maneuvers.
Boonsboro High School isn’t expected to have a similar schedule change for another year, but incoming senior Steven Kurapaty doesn’t like the change that made advanced placement literature a yearlong course, instead of one that lasted a semester, in the coming school year.
If the course’s duration had remained at a semester, Kurapaty said he might have been able to take another science-related course or a normal advanced placement statistics class rather than having to study the course independently.
The schedule change at Smithsburg High was driven by the more rigorous Common Core curriculum, which the school system started phasing in during the last school year and will continue to work in this school year, Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said.
The new curriculum will be fully implemented for the 2013-14 school year.
“We know it’s going to take more time to deliver the Common Core curriculum,” Wilcox said.
The school system is moving from classes that are a “mile wide and an inch deep to classes that are much deeper,” he said.
Most students taking algebra for the first time during the coming school year will take the new Common Core algebra course, said Rick Akers, director of secondary education and student services. That course will be more rigorous than the traditional algebra course and will include some lessons that, in the past, would have been part of the algebra II course, he said.
Students usually take algebra in eighth or ninth grade, Akers said.
The new curriculum calls for more nonfiction reading, more writing and for students to use more primary sources.
Fiama Valentin, 16, who will be a senior at Washington County Technical High School when school goes back into session, said she likes reading about people’s lives from their point of view, so she’s looking forward to using more primary source materials such as diaries.