As up to 300 Fort High students wait to get their course schedules sorted out at the school’s guidance department, at least one grade 11 student is wondering if he’s going to have to wait another year to get the math and chemistry courses he needs to eventually graduate.
“If I can just get my classes, I’ll be happy,” said the student, who found out about the scheduling problem last week but likely will have to wait a while before he can see a guidance counsellor.
“The list is five pages long. I’m on page two, and they’re only about halfway down page one [on Tuesday],” he lamented.
While FFHS principal Ian Simpson has said six guidance counsellors are working hard to get student schedules worked out, this particular student contacted the board office Monday but didn’t find any solutions suitable to him.
“They gave me some classes I don’t want. They offered me Grade 10 drama and Grade 12 economics but I think I need Grade 12 math for Grade 12 economics,” he noted.
“I also could choose Grade 11 math at the technical level but I don’t think it will help me very much—I want to go on to university,” he said.
He also currently has a spare on his schedule but stressed he can’t afford to have any since he’s making up for two courses from previous years he needs to retake.
The student said it’s not only him who’s worried about the scheduling. “If I don’t get those courses, I’ll have to stay another year. And I know one kid who’s said, ‘If I don’t get into the courses I need, my whole year’s ruined,’” he related.
“It’s pretty screwed up. They have computers, it shouldn’t be this way,” he charged. “They could put me on a waiting list but if I have to wait two or three weeks to get in . . . .
“If I can’t get them, I guess I’ll have to ask for alternative ed.”
And the best case scenario he’s hoping for? “I get my classes and I’ll be happy.”
Both Simpson and school board superintendent Terry Ellwood said earlier this week that the scheduling problems were not unforeseen. In fact, Simpson said Monday that students should simply “make an appointment, be patient, and we’ll sort it out.”
Citing factors such as new course slots due to increased instruction time for teachers, students trying to take courses from more than one grade level (known as “stacking”), and limits on class size, Ellwood admitted that even after the guidance department gets the schedules sorted out, some students may end up not getting exactly what they asked for when they filled out option sheets back in the spring.
“Sometimes things don’t work out the way you want them. I remember when I was in university, you had to wait in line to sign up for your courses,” he remarked.
“If you were at the back of the line and the course filled up, you would be out of luck. It’s just part of life,” Ellwood said.