Required classes complicate scheduling for students


Illustration by Joanna Baker

Grady offers an extremely diverse range of courses. Now more than ever, students have the opportunity to take courses that interest them and enrich their life outside of school. Sometimes, the options seem overwhelming; with only eight slots in one’s schedule, students are forced to make tough decisions between pathways, Advanced Placement (AP) classes, and dual enrollment opportunities. But one factor complicates this process even more: semester-long required classes.

Students are required to take core classes (math, science, English, and social studies) throughout high school; additionally, students must take two years of a language and one pathway. However, students are also required to take one semester of civics, one art course, one semester of health, one semester of personal fitness, and one semester of another physical education class.

For a student who isn’t involved in many electives or pathways, this does not seem like much of an issue. But for someone who is trying to cram four core classes, several AP classes, and several pathways all into one year, or for dually enrolled students, these additional semester-long classes can force them to have to give up valuable schedule space for a class that ends up feeling like dead weight.

I took health, civics, and personal fitness my freshman year, but I don’t feel like I benefited from these classes. Some were better than others; however, the overall educational content of them was lacking, and in the end, I felt as if my time could have been spent much more productively elsewhere. I’ve heard that same sentiment echoed over and over again across the school.

Most students opt to take semester-long required classes in their freshman year. However, some freshmen take AP Human Geography, which takes up an extra slot in their schedules. If they’re enrolled in several pathways, they might not be able to fit these classes into their crowded schedule. This means that they will either have to take them later in high school, or they will have to take them online.

For many of these students, taking the required classes later in high school is not an option. Their schedules will be so densely packed and meticulously planned out that a random semester-long class would disrupt them entirely.

Therefore, they must take the classes online. In general, online classes are not as effective as regular classes. However, especially for semester-long required courses which have little content in the first place, students find themselves wasting hours of their time on their computer for no reason other than to satisfy a course credit number.

The only ways to be exempted from physical education in particular are either to take it online or to participate in a varsity sport. Some students don’t fulfill either of these criteria and end up wasting valuable class time kicking a ball for an hour. The only grades students receive in the Personal Fitness class are those for participating in class and dressing out in gym clothes.

While physical activity is undoubtedly an important component of a healthy lifestyle, the activities in Personal Fitness often don’t even cause students to break a sweat. With Grady’s variety of course offerings, students shouldn’t have to spend an entire semester in a hot, sweaty gymnasium where they don’t even get much physical activity.

When planning for upcoming years, the school must keep in mind the impact that semester-long required classes have on our schedules. To some students, it may not be a big deal, but for others, these classes impede on their ability to get the most out of their educational experience. With a new school year just around the corner, it’s finally time for the school to put students’ priorities first.