Cover photo from The Daily Gazette
Amsterdam High School has recently adopted a new policy for future graduates that will create a fairer environment at graduation.
The old policy stated that as long as a senior had the potential to meet all graduation requirements by August (for example, they failed a regents in June but were retaking it in August), they were allowed to walk the stage in June.
The new policy, which was recommended by the superintendent (Raymond Colucciello), raises the expectations for students finishing high school. It guarantees that any student participating in the June graduation has fulfilled the requirements for graduation by that point. This system may seem harsh – even our principal, Tyrone O’Meally, thought so at first. But it assures that all kids walking the stage have done what they are supposed to do and are ready to move on to adulthood.
At the high school, every student is given the same chance at making it through secondary school and into a college or career fitting for themselves. Teachers and counselors are supportive and are not afraid to challenge students for their benefit. The district means well by implementing this system – their objective is to let students celebrate by walking the stage once they are finished with high school. They will even be coordinating a ceremony in August for those who need the extra time. But the question that arises among students is the fairness of the policy and the objectives of authorities.
When asked why the policy was adopted, Mr. O’Meally stated that seniors need to begin holding themselves accountable for their actions – “… not everyone has the same circumstance, but with the amount of support we have in this building, they should be able to meet the requirements.” The school’s administration has good intentions – kids should not be graduating if they have not met the criteria that most others have. But not all kids are the same. They have different home lives that affect factors such as their attendance or their ability to complete classwork or homework, which makes it difficult to pass tests or classes. A senior with a supportive homelife may agree with the new policy, while another student with a trivial life may believe the system to be pitiless.
As some seniors will not be able to participate in the June graduation with the majority of their class for whatever reason, the school is still assembling a second ceremony. This is an opportunity in itself that less fortunate seniors should be grateful for: they will still have that time to celebrate their coming of age.
The new policy does not just decide when each senior graduates. It is a method of illustrating expectations for high schoolers preparing for higher education or serious, full time jobs. It is a way for students to take responsibility for their actions and understand the true feeling of success once they complete this step of their education.
This system is not being implemented to punish students; it is a way to ensure that every senior earned their right on the stage.