Mountain Home High School students launched a Change.org petition on Thursday, asking the Mountain Home School Board to reconsider its decision to have high school students return to a full schedule in the fall of this year.
The full schedule requirement for seniors was temporarily suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing them to only take the classes they needed to graduate.
At the time of writing, the petition had 435 signatures.
“We took all of the classes we were required to take to graduate, and now they’re making us take a bunch of classes we don’t care to take, and we don’t need,” said Kurt Jones, the creator of the petition. “This decision will lead to a lot of problems down the road with students. Students not caring about classes will start failing classes lowering their GPA. Collages are now currently looking more at students GPA and not as much as their ACT scores. Sign this petition to change this.”
During its latest work session on March 31, the Mountain Home School Board made the decision to return high school seniors to full schedule during the 2023 school year.
In its response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Arkansas made the decision to give schools the flexibility to allow seniors to only take the necessary classes needed to graduate during their last year instead of having a full schedule.
This move allowed Mountain Home High School to better handle its social distancing requirements. The benefits of the move were split between some members of the board. While many agreed that the free time created a benefit to students, especially those that worked, they also recognized that many students were missing out on all of the benefits and programs that the high school offers.
There was also discussion of dealing with “lazy students” during the meeting. The board then agreed to return to the full schedule.
“This is very upsetting!” said Amber Kemp, an upset parent who responded to the news on Facebook. “My junior, along with so many others stacked their schedules and worked their butts off to avoid this. Now he’ll be stacked with unnecessary classes and stress (because he only needs two more to graduate!).”
Mountain Home High School Principal Mary Beth Russell put out a response to the petition in a letter late Thursday afternoon.
In the letter, Russell notes that “the pandemic created the need for social distancing and allowing seniors to not have full schedules did provide open space in our buildings, but this practice also had some unintended negative impacts. The past two school years have shown us that even though our seniors are on the cusp of adulthood, they still need guidance, direction, and accountability at school.”
She then states that “it is our job as a school system to prepare our students for college, careers, and civic responsibilities. The best way to do this is to be consistently engaged with them. For this reason, the MHHS class of 2023 will go back to having full course schedules for seniors as we did prior to the pandemic.”
While the change is coming, upcoming seniors will not be required to remain in classroom seats for the full school day. The high school is incentivizing students to take part in its various programs, stating “Seniors will still be eligible to take courses at ASUMH during the school day, to participate in multiple sections of the work study program, to take advantage of a multitude of service learning opportunities, and to serve as interns or apprentices with local business and industry partners.”
Response to the petition has been mixed, with many students and parents being in favor of not returning to a full schedule.
In the petition, one student by the name of Kyra Fellers said, “I didn’t start taking high school classes in 8th grade for my senior year to be filled with a bunch of classes I don’t need or care about.”
On the other side of the fence, parents like Les Clark said, “Kids need all the education they can get. Now days they offer college level classes at zero cost to them. I can guarantee you our boys will have a full schedule.”
The full response to student petition by Principal Russell can be found here.
Those wishing to sign the online petition, can do so here.