The Harbinger Online

Switching Up Seminar

Every year, East students have gone to seminar, and been divided by grade. Freshmen with other freshmen, or juniors with other juniors. But for future years, seminars will not be divided by class, and many more changes will be made.

Of the many possibilities, only a few are definite at this point. The mixed-grade, otherwise known as looping, is going to happen, and a 20 minute discussion at the beginning of each seminar is very likely according to the administrators. East will be the first SMSD school to implement this system and its changes.

news“This is not the first time that East has been ahead of the curve,” principal John McKinney said. “One of the things that we are being encouraged by the district, is the idea of looping.”

The goal is to build a group connection, having the same people in class for all four years. When a senior class graduates, their spots will be refilled with the incoming freshmen. According to McKinney, looping has potential to be effective outside of seminar, and the administrators have hopes to implement looping into core classes.

“I am a big fan of looping,” McKinney said. “We will be doing it with the 9th grade into 10th grade English class, and with the 11 AP into the 12 AP english classes. When you think about it, you don’t have to start over after summer.”

The other definite change is designating the first 20 minutes of seminar to have a class discussion about general topics such as homecoming, or how to use lockers. This discussion will include everybody in the class, and will be led by two upperclassmen link leaders.

“We are trying to find a way to build a mentoring of older kids to younger kids,” associate principal Britton Hainey said. “One way to do that is to have those kids interact, and converse.”

Like seminars, the study hall elective is used to get homework done during school hours. Next year the entire district will no longer off a study hall class.

“[By not offering a study hall class] it encourages students to do some classes that they might otherwise not,” McKinney said, “If someone has to fill seven hours, instead of sitting in a study hall, they might take ceramic or debate that they might not otherwise have considered.”

It is possible that there will be no more sessions in seminar, and as a result there would be a free movement system. With the discussion at the beginning of class, the timing of sessions would be off, and the idea of signing out may become nonexistent. With free movement, students would not have to report back to their base seminar if traveling to multiple teachers.

“It will be a little more chaotic in the halls,” Haney said. “But it will put more responsibility on the kids. Go see what teachers you need to see, go visit the clubs you need to visit, get everything caught up, and then go back to seminar.”

Free movement is not 100 percent guaranteed, but if implemented, it would save time for students, and allow for more time with teachers, according to administrators. A student would sign out of their original class, and write where they are going. Once there, they can sign out to travel to a different class again.

“I like the idea,” McKinney said. “Because if a student has multiple teachers they need to see, they can go to math for five minutes, then go straight to English for 20 minutes then walk down to science for 30.”

Along with the other changes, special seminar classes will no longer exist. This means that journalism, drill team and others will have non-participating students in the class. Although they will have these non members, participants in the clubs will still be able to meet.

“I think there is potential for the seminar changes to be successful,” junior Josh Clayton said. “I’m not sure how well it will work, but I guess I will find out next year.”

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