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Year 4 Day 33- Yester-year.

by admin on October 5th, 2006

Today started with the following comment I overheard while entering the building.

“I was angry, I was tired, and I was on crack.” I think she was serious too.

My classes are still very peaceful, quiet even. I have two classes that are a little raucous, due to the large numbers, but nothing I can’t handle. We have over 150 kids at this school… which is higher than ever before. If you could see this school 7 years ago when I started, and compare it to now… you’d be amazed.

When I started here kids kept time cards. They were required to attend 16 hours of classroom time in a week (some more, depending on their probation requirements) We offered 6 classes a day… so a student conceivably could go 6 hours on Monday, 6 Hours on Tuesday, and then leave after lunch (4th period) on Wednesday… done for the week. Many students did this. Granted, they never got close to graduating, but they had nice long weekends.

There were no assigned classes. Kids went to whatever class they wanted for whatever period they wanted. If you wanted art, you came in to art whatever period it was offered, worked, got your time sheet signed, then went to the next period, wherever subject you chose. Some kids stayed in the same classroom all day. Some showed up to your room once a week. The time cards had a spot to mark the hours, and the credit points earned (in theory, one class period earned one point, and twelve points earned 1 credit)

Each teacher was responsible for about 16 kids, and at the beginning of the week the kids in your advisory group came to class and added up their points from the previous week. They organized them according to the subject they were working on, then marked out their credits on a sheet.

Fridays were always minimum days. We’d add up the advie’s hours, and make sure they reached 16. If they didn’t we put them on a contract requiring them to go 20 hours a week. If they didn’t live up to their contract, we put them in front of an interview board to see whether they should stay in school. They basically had to convince the staff to let them stay.

Classes were chaotic because you never knew how many kids would show up day to day, and class per class. You could not have any type of lesson plan for the same reason. One day you might have 40, and the next 6. Fridays were nice because only about 20 kids were on campus, everyone else stopped coming once they reached 16 hours. 5th and 6th were nice as well because we had about 10 kids (many only went 4 periods a day). We had a lot of odd classes like film studies, and even a production class where me made puppet shows that read the morning bulletin.

In some ways it was very fun, and super brainless. In others, however, it sucked… it was more like summer school babysitters camp. Our campus was also about 90% male. Mabout 80% of the kids were out of jevenille detention centers of some kind, and had chips on their shoulders. Fights were more common.

Now everything here is almost exactly like a regular comprehensive high school. The only differences being the lack of sports, dances, and homework. You could add reading ability too… but I won’t.

I wish I had kept a journal like this 7 years ago. Way weirder stuff happened with regularity.

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