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Schools should inspire, challenge



Published: Fri, May 31, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



So one day, a student walks through the breezy doors of her haven of academia.

As she drifts down the hallway, she peers into the other classrooms to find couches and chairs formed in a circle, housing a ring of deep discussion among the 10 to 15 students.

The passionate teacher leads her students to envision more than the obvious and put previously learned knowledge to use in creating new ideas.

She keeps walking down the hallway to the courtyard where her class awaits. Dropping her journal and newspaper, she opens discussion on a new plan to change the world around her. They are pushed to excellence with higher expectations.

At noon, all class disperses for the students to live and breathe in any sport, job, project they choose -- or to merely sit in the town caf & eacute; to work on a book of poems or to read Kerouac or Browning.

The way it is

However, the reality of school as of now is an entirely different image.

Why do so many students loathe the thought of high school?

For many, the institution houses a power struggle between teachers and students, a place where learning is merely dull work. Some students just go through the motions, never learning anything and just drift by with a diploma.

Something must change in our school structure to boost intelligent thought and to increase motivation.

Dream school

In my Advanced Placement government class, the overall consensus regarding a dream school was that they wished school was a place "where passionate teachers and students worked together ...[with] a concentrated area of study," as senior Jen Delfosse said.

What's more, a key aspect of this school is "interactive learning," a term coined by Jason Coombs, also a senior. Tests would restrict admittance into upper level classes where the students, then, would focus attention on what they had learned in the years before, discussing the topics more deeply.

Students cannot apply what they've learned if they are forced to repeat the same information year by year.

In an attempt to take baby steps in this revolution, let's fix what we already have.

Advanced Placement

Finally, Advanced Placement classes have reached the Austintown School District; however, they lack crucial prerequisites and qualifications to separate the college level course from all other classes.

The purpose of AP courses is to provide the top students of the school a progressive focus on learning, more attention to detail, and a challenge to the students. All we want is to be challenged.

Of course, all of the training in the AP classes leads up to the crucial AP test where the students have the opportunity to earn college credit.

But the tests are not free, and students work so hard in the toughest classes available only to pay for their own tests. Perhaps the school should consider that their most gifted students deserve a break and allocate some money to help out the so-called elite of the high school.

Also, to further improve the curriculum, a weighted grade point average is essential in the highly aggressive world. As of now, students will go to college and find fellow classmates with 5.0 GPA's to their anorexic 3.8. If students are taking the most advanced classes offered, the extra effort should have some rewards.

Of course, school will not change for the best overnight -- perhaps not for years to come. But I believe some aspects of the system can adjust to constantly changing innovations of the world.

We, as students, demand the best education, one that we deserve.

Challenge us. Reward us. Make us the best we can be.

XElizabeth Cannon is a senior at Austintown Fitch High School who also is taking classes at Youngstown State University.




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