Students Call For Start In August

WHEELING – Advanced placement students at Wheeling Park High School say an early start to the school year is needed so they can get started on the work necessary to earn them college credit by June.

WPHS class officers spoke out at Monday night’s public hearing regarding the Ohio County school calendar for the 2014-15 academic year, saying it is important that students – especially those in advanced placement classes – start classes no later than mid-August so they can meet deadlines needed for their college transcripts and scholarship applications.

Karen Laska, vice president of the senior class, said she is among students currently applying to colleges.

“My applications required a mid-year report of my grades, which was due in early February,” she said. “If we followed a schedule in which school didn’t begin until after Labor Day, and had to take exams after Christmas break, our semester wouldn’t be completed until the end of January. It would be extremely difficult for seniors to get their mid-year reports processed in the guidance office and sent off in time to meet deadlines.”

Advanced placement classes give students the chance to receive college credit in high school and reduce the cost of their education, according to Laska.

“This ability could be jeopardized if we were to lose up to six weeks of instruction (earlier in the year) – as would occur if the first day of school were pushed until after Labor Day,” she said. “I am currently taking six AP classes, and losing 30 periods of class instruction in six classes would significantly impact my ability to pass exams and earn college credit.”

Jacob Galik, who teaches an advanced placement class at WPHS, said AP students often come in on Saturdays and Sundays to take practice tests. He has found that losing classes to snow days forces him to teach information more quickly to the students before they must take advanced placement tests.

“The more I have to cover, the faster I go, the more likely it is that I miss something,” he said. “Me missing that can be the difference between their earning an advanced placement credit or not.”

Most attending Monday’s public hearing – and a prior one on Feb. 10 – agreed there should not be a year-round “balanced” school calendar, but there are differing opinions on when the school year should start.

Many parents present Monday praised the student leaders but said they were not representative of most of the students in the school, some of whom burn out on education more easily and need the summer down time.

Ohio County Schools must submit their school calendar for the 2014 to 2015 school year by May 1 to the state Department of Education. Superintendent Dianna Vargo said the school district’s calendar committee will continue to meet in the coming weeks, and a proposed calendar will be submitted to the board of education for consideration at its April 14 meeting.