APS should continue with senior early release tradition

In+past+years%2C+seniors+at+Grady+have+gotten+out+of+school+two+weeks+earlier+than+the+other+classes+to+allow+time+for+graduation+practice+and+transcripts+to+be+finalized.+However%2C+this+year%2C+whether+this+tradition+of+early+release+will+continue+has+yet+to+be+decided.+Especially+because+of+the+unprecedented+school+year%2C+APS+should+continue+this+tradition+for+seniors.+

Lanier Pickren

In past years, seniors at Grady have gotten out of school two weeks earlier than the other classes to allow time for graduation practice and transcripts to be finalized. However, this year, whether this tradition of early release will continue has yet to be decided. Especially because of the unprecedented school year, APS should continue this tradition for seniors.

Lanier Pickren

As the final quarter of the 2020-21 school year dawns, seniors grow more and more restless for the end of their K-12 years. However, it’s hard to anticipate an ending when you don’t know when it is. 

For grades 9 through 11, the last day of school is May 26, but for seniors, this date is uncertain. In the past, Atlanta Public Schools released seniors two weeks earlier than other students. This year APS has yet to make a decision. 

One thing is sure — after this tumultuous school year, APS should continue the early release for seniors tradition. 

Previously, seniors got out early to practice for graduation. The early release also gave the district more time to ensure that seniors’ transcripts and records for graduation eligibility were thoroughly reviewed. 

Last year, seniors were released even earlier (on May 1) to give more time for the district to make sure all documents and records were in order. This school year, the same reasons still apply. 

While many details surrounding graduation have yet to be revealed, APS has moved forward with a plan for in-person graduation ceremonies at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Georgia Tech. For Grady, the ceremony is on Tuesday May 25. Given there will be an in-person ceremony with various Covid-19 protocols for attendees, graduation practice will still be a necessary step. An early release would give students time and flexibility to attend these practices, whether they are learning virtually or in-person. 

Additionally, this school year, it is even more important that staff is given ample time to ensure everything is in order for seniors to graduate. With the majority of students remaining virtual, communication between students and staff about post-high school plans has been limited to what can be done virtually.

However, one of the most compelling reasons why seniors should get an early release from school is because, frankly, they deserve it. Speaking as a senior I’ve heard my peers and classmates complain about this unconventional school year, how much they’ve missed out on and how they hope, at the very least, we get this early release. 

The Class of 2021 has missed out on many traditions they’ve looked forward to since freshman year— wearing togas and crowns during Spirit Week, senior nights and senior skip days, their last homecoming and senior prom. This class deserves something to make up for all they’ve missed, and an earlier break from the frustrations of pandemic schooling would give seniors the needed motivation to get through the remainder of the year and start a new chapter of their lives. 

While arguments can be made that there has been less time spent schooling this year (thus an early release would take away even more time), this would not hurt the senior class. With senioritis at its peak and graduation getting closer by the minute, the Class of 2021 will have already clocked out, regardless of when the last day of school is. 

This early release would actually be even more beneficial to their schooling, as AP tests, which many seniors are signed up to take, have been moved to the end of May. An early release would result in more study time and possibly higher scores.

Though the Class of 2021 has experienced an unprecedented senior year, to say the least, an early release would give seniors the break they so desperately need. With every other senior perk having been canceled due to Covid-19, the district should give seniors something to look forward to.

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