RANDOLPH, NJ - There are a number of superstitions students take part in the night before a snowstorm to improve the chances of school being cancelled the next day. Randolph students must have been very superstitious this year because the district used a whopping seven snow days for the 2013-2014 school year so far. Four days had originally been set aside in the calendar for snow days, leaving three days to be made up. School remained in session on the Monday of Presidents’ Weekend, so two more school days need to be accounted for.
The original thought was for school to be open on the first two days of April break, but superintendent Dr. David Browne, proposed a new plan on Monday, March 3.
“We have received written approval to allow Randolph High School seniors to participate in online coursework in place of days of school that have been missed due to weather related closings,” Dr. Browne wrote in a letter to parents and guardians that same day. Grades K-11 will have to make up snow days in June.
However, before this letter had been sent out, the seniors were pulled into the auditorium for a brief meeting with the principal, Mrs. Debbie Iosso, about the pilot program.
“There is good news and bad news,” Mrs. Iosso said at the meeting. She told the seniors they would be able to keep their spring break and graduate on time - both ideas sent excitement through the crowd. Then the pilot program was mentioned. Mrs. Iosso said that seniors would be expected to complete online coursework that amounted to 2 days of school.
Since students didn’t completely understand the pilot program yet, they didn’t seem very keen on the idea they would have to complete 2 school days on their free time. Mrs. Iosso cleared up the confusion.
Time spent online won’t have to add up to 14 hours of lessons. Instead, teachers will come up with assignments, much like homework.
Senior English teacher Ms. Valvano plans to have her students do an extension activity to the book they will be reading at the time. She commented “They’ll be looking at a short interview and a video.” Her students will then have to respond to what they watched in a blog form.
With a better understanding, seniors are now open to the pilot program and see it as a great experience.
"I'm pretty happy about it because we get our spring break," Melanie Durban, a senior, said. "And the online lessons are just like a little extra homework."
Even the high school administration is excited about the pilot program. Vice principal Michael Sorge said he hopes online assignments will be "something out of the box" and "different than just here 'read this and complete these questions.'"
"I don't see any disadvantages with this program," student body president Iroda Abdujabborova said. "The advantages I see are time saving and effective. This is much better than prolonging the school year and having kids miss school because they don't care [about making up the days]."
Not only will this experience be beneficial for the seniors this year, but it will also prepare them for after graduation. "It's a really positive environment for seniors because it will be used in college," Ms. Valvano said.
"I like the idea, mostly because it means I get my whole spring break," said Caroline Byrne, who is also graduating this June. "I am excited to see how this goes."
If this pilot program has as much of a positive outcome as the anticipation, online course assignments could soon be seen incorporated in our district to make up snow days, according to Mr. Sorge.
Until that time, hopefully students have stopped flushing ice down the toilet or wearing their pajamas inside-out and backwards, and are wishing for higher temperatures instead.