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Student Speaks Out Against Extra Credit Hall Passes

I didn’t remember to bring a water bottle with me. My mouth was dry- I needed a drink. Soon I would start to feel clammy. My chest and throat would constrict. The grey brick room would start rocking from side to side.

Knowing I would soon feel dizzy, I toyed with the idea of leaving class to get a drink. The headache getting worse, I reluctantly got up and asked to go to the water fountain. This shouldn’t have been a hard decision; however, this necessary trip to the water fountain cost me two points of extra credit.

Some teachers at East use a system that doesn’t let you leave class freely. You are allowed to leave, but when you do, you lose a pass worth two extra credit points. With 10 passes for the semester you have the opportunity to earn 40 points extra credit if you don’t use any in a year.  I know of three teachers in the school that use this kind of system, though some vary the number of passes or the amount of points a pass is worth. However, the same principle of losing extra credit points just to get a drink or go to the nurse still applies.

The passes are recorded on a deceptively welcoming purple sheet decorated in flowers and swirls. The cuteness suggests that not being able to see a nurse is harmless, but the pale face and shaking hands of a sick student trapped in class doesn’t seem harmless to me.

Now for me, and many other students, this hall pass system is frustrating but manageable, but what if I was barely hanging on to an 89.7 percent in the class? Imagine I was approaching the end of semester and I wasn’t happy with my grade. I think we’ve all been in that situation, and I think we would all be clinging on to that extra credit.

Those students who need the extra credit are trapped in the classroom. They could feel sick or dizzy and they would have to sacrifice their chance to get their grade back up in order to see the nurse.

Even if I just left my homework in my last class, there is no way to win. I can either get a zero on that homework assignment or lose extra credit points to leave and go get it. As well as the stress of spreading out your passes throughout the year, if you lose the sheet, you’re screwed. The sheet can not be replaced so you are stuck in that class for the rest of the semester.

HealthGuides says if a teenager is drinking the recommended 64 oz of water a day, they should use the restroom every three hours or around twice in a school day. On a block day I am in that class for an hour and a half, so there is a 50/50 chance that I will need to use the restroom during that class. But no, I’ll just have to wait until my next class to use the restroom.

Teachers argue that it’s not unfair because it’s extra credit that you wouldn’t be getting otherwise. They expect us to see it as a reward for staying in class, not a punishment for leaving. However, I have heard, on countless occasions, teachers saying ‘always take advantage of any extra credit you get,’ but in these classes taking this extra credit comes at risk to our own health.

They say it is a way to encourage students to stay in class and stop them from leaving when it isn’t necessary, but surely if we are skipping class and missing important information, we are the ones who will struggle when it comes to tests.

If the extra credit is there, any student is going to try to earn it, and might in turn cause harm to themselves whether by not seeing the nurse when they feel sick or not drinking water when they need to.

Teachers should trust us to exercise our right to use the school facilities whether that is the nurse, restroom, locker or water fountain.  It’s not like we are going to be roaming the halls and at every chance we get.

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Jemima Swindells

Sophomore, A&E Section Editor This is Jemima’s second year on The Harbinger, and she also does Coalition and lacrosse. Outside of school, Jemima spends her time forcing her cat to hang out with her and looking disappointed as people attempt to imitate her accent. Read Full »

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