Final thoughts

Building renews final exemptions policy


Photo by: Kamryn Kelley

Sophomore Trevor Stover, junior Alesha Lawson and freshman Jordan McDaniels study together for their upcoming final.

Story by Kali Poenitske, Editor in Chief

After the Building Leadership Team (BLT) discussed the consistent number of tardies and absences, the solution of finals exemption was brought up.

“We started talking about tardies being an issue. There were 40 to 50 kids in the hall when the bell rang,” principal Phil Bressler said.

As a BLT member, junior Madison Nagel believes the finals exemption policy is effective.

“We thought [exemptions] would be a nice incentive for students to attend class and be on time,” Nagel said. “For me, it has worked.”

Though math teacher Rebecca Lomshek sees improvement in punctuality, she is concerned about the readiness of students planning to continue their education.

“I understand the need, and attendance has been better since we instated that, but I do worry about our students who are going to the college level,” Lomshek said. “The best scenario would be the college bound students shouldering the responsibility to take the final.”

For a student to be exempt from their finals, they must have an 80 percent or better with no tardies and three absences or less in the class. The only absences that do not prohibit a student from being exempt are student activities.

“Any non-school activity absence counts. Whether it’s a doctor’s note or the flu and you had to spend three days at home because you were sick, those are three absences,” Bressler said. “We felt if we started exempting one thing, we’d end up exempting everything.”

When considering what type of absences would prevent a student from being exempt, Bressler said school activities are the only absences that are excused.  

“This is something we want kids to work for. We are rewarding students making school a priority. Find a way to be here,” Bressler said. “We look at school activities as a conference or business trip. You’re still working, but you’re working there. We’re not sending you to the doctor. There are times when I need to go see the doctor, but I put it off a day or two or try to go after school or on a day we don’t have school because I want to be here. I have things to do. Sometimes you’re going to have to make sacrifices.”

Nagel has been attending school with mononucleosis but has been able to work around her school schedule to avoid absences.

“It has been rough coming to school with mono. I have only missed a few classes to go to the doctor,” Nagel said. “It would be beneficial if doctors’ visits confirmed with a note were excused, but, rules are rules.”

Junior Joel Kafka disagrees with the ease of avoiding absences.

“Three is plenty, but you should be able to miss for funerals and doctors’ appointments,” Kafka said. “There is no other time for some busy students to schedule that kind of stuff.”

Junior Brooklyn Hellwig also believes doctors’ notes should be excused when it comes to exempting students from finals.

It has been rough coming to school with mono.”

— Madison Nagel

“I don’t like the policy because it hurts kids that get sick. It’s unfair since it counts doctors’ notes,” Hellwig said. “It seems our current admin cares more about attendance than students’ safety.”

After observing the hallways and talking to students and faculty, Bressler feels the new policy is working.

“I think the goal was to get kids to class more often and to get them there on time,” Bressler said. “I think people are getting what they wanted.”

English teacher Kristy Uttley has seen the effectiveness of this new policy.

“I think students have reacted positively,” Uttley said. “They’re excited about the opportunity to be exempt from the final.”

After this semester’s pilot of the program, administration will decide if it has been successful enough to include in the handbook for next school year.

“My gut feeling is it’s working, but we’ll have some preliminary numbers after this semester,” Bressler said. “If we decide it’s worth it, we’ll do it again next year. As long as we feel we are getting what we want out of it, I’m thinking we’d continue.”

With three weeks left of school, there are 998 tardies compared to the 2088 last semester.