STAFF ED: H-F is changing things, but nothing’s really changing

STAFF ED: H-F is changing things, but nothings really changing

H-F, per its own website, is a three-time National Blue Ribbon award-winning IB World School with over 20 AP classes and a reported 97% graduation rate.

We didn’t reach these impressive standards without adapting and changing with new trends.

But at this point, it has gotten to where it seems we’re changing merely for the sake of changing things.

As a junior, I can honestly say that I’ve learned how minor changes that the administration likes to implement, which don’t do much of anything, simply make your student experience more chaotic.

My freshman year was the first year the Compass advisory period was established, and I can honestly say I have never gotten anything educational out of it.

I’m well aware that this is not a universal experience, and I might be alone in thinking this, but the time could be used in other ways like longer lunches or maybe adding an extra minute or two to passing periods.

I’m not naive enough to claim that I think advisory is going to go away anytime soon.

When Compass first started, we were told that we were going to be with the same alpha slice of kids and the same teacher for all four years to establish a relationship with our teacher, but that didn’t happen.

I have been with many of the same kids for the last three years, but I’ve also had three different teachers so I’ve never really built much of a relationship with any of them.

Compass was initially established to act as a study hall, but predominantly a time for social-emotional learning (SEL) through the Pace Curriculum.

We did a handful of these lessons freshman year (2022-23), but my social-emotional skills are currently as awful as they’ve ever been.

Another minor – but inconvenient – change was between my freshman and sophomore year when the schedule was rearranged moving lunch and Compass.

In the 2022-23 year, Compass was part of fourth period, and students had half of the period as Compass and the other half as lunch, resulting in about 45 minutes to eat.

We now have 30 minutes on both block days and Viking days.

I couldn’t exactly tell you why this change was made, but I can tell you that knocking 15 minutes off a hungry teenager’s lunch is a bold decision, especially when some students have to wait in line to purchase their food for easily 10 minutes every day.

Looking forward, however, there’s been some discussion in the Board of Education about abolishing the class ranking system in the coming year or two.

The top 10 students are recognized at graduation, but in the 2025-26 school year, there may be a change in which more students are recognized through diplomatic distinction, per the Jan. 19 Board meeting minutes.

According to additional notes from this meeting, students actively pass on electives they may genuinely enjoy, simply because they aren’t offered at the AP/IB level.

Obviously, your core academic classes are important, but from personal experience, I can wholeheartedly say that taking classes just because you enjoy the topic makes high school 1000% more enjoyable.

There have also been conversations from a student mental health standpoint, that the class rank system creates an “unhealthy culture of competitiveness” and “puts undue stress on students,” per the Board meeting minutes.

This decision has also been backed up by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), stating, “Students at H-F who apply to UIUC without a class rank will not be disadvantaged in the review of their applications in any way. Rankings based on HSPR and/or GPA fail to account for differences in high schools across the state,” stated UIUC. “High schools also apply different weights to calculate rankings and GPAs so there is considerable difference in what these indicators mean. We have recently removed class rank from our scholarship consideration because of how many schools don’t report it anymore.”

This could certainly be seen as a positive change because it doesn’t affect your college acceptance at all, it takes a little stress out of your academic life, which is always a plus. I’ve never really understood the desire to work yourself to death for something that people can congratulate you over for a few days around graduation and then immediately forget.

If you’ve been at school any day this school year, odds are you’ve noticed the massive amounts of construction next to G-Building, which will eventually lead to the new net-zero science building.

It’s no secret that H-F has a bewildering amount of money, as the Jan. 19 Board meeting reported that H-F currently has 10 months in reserves (approximately $73 million, per superintendent Scott Wakeley).

This means that if all of the current funding we’re bringing in suddenly stops, we could run as-is for 10 months.  

Maybe the money that they’re using on the new building can be used more constructively to improve things we already have as opposed to just creating a pretty, futuristic-looking campus.

H-F certainly isn’t lacking in things to improve inside either.

There are an endless amount of issues with the bathrooms, ranging from old appliances to fully broken appliances, a large amount of the computers in classrooms and the library are outdated and barely functional, and this may be a personal vendetta but the carpet in the hallways and classrooms has to go.

In the end, H-F needs to stop making minute changes that don’t benefit anyone and spend more time discussing larger changes that will genuinely have a positive impact on the student body and staff.

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