Every school year brings with it predictable changes, from new teachers to new classes, which aren’t technically “new,” considering you pick your classes and generally know who teaches what. However, imagine being handed your schedule on the first day of school and seeing a genuine surprise: a class you were told you did not have to take, a class you did not expect to see.
To this year’s junior class, that moment became a reality this year, when many of them glanced at their schedules in September, and saw a World Religions class they did not sign up for. While my schedule lacked this class, I soon learned that it would appear soon enough in the second semester. While all grades, except perhaps the freshmen, have had to adjust to the strangeness of a new schedule, it might be the roughest transition for the Class of 2018; as juniors we have spent half of our high school lives following the previous schedule and the set of rules that come with it, and now have to learn entirely new rules for the second half. Now, change is not necessarily a bad thing; but when you sit as a freshman and plan out each class you’ll take throughout your high school career in order to fit graduation requirements, from majors to minors, a change halfway through your four years drastically alters that.
At the end of the 2015-2016 school year, when news that a new schedule would arise in the coming September, my class was told that the new World Religion class would not be a requirement of our entire grade, considering we were the first year transitioning into this class. We were also told if you had completed your religion requirements (by taking two religion minor courses, the old schedule’s graduation requirement) by the end of the school year, you would not be placed in the new class. Additionally, if you had taken one or fewer religion minors, the World Religion class would complete your graduation requirements. However, this was not the case in September. Students who had already completed their requirements were placed into the class, and were now required to take it. Mr. Brandon clarified the change in a class meeting, apologizing for the surprising change, but affirming that all Juniors would be placed in the class this year.
As one of the students who had completed all of my religion requirements, I was and am less than thrilled about taking another required religion course. For one, I spent a full year of minor courses completing my religion graduation requirements; this took time from my schedule and from other minor courses I would have liked to take. In addition, other students did not complete their requirements like I did, yet we are both required to take this new class. This is not only unfair to students who had planned out their minors and had taken the time to complete them, but it ignores the time and effort put in in order to complete both these requirements, and gives no advantage to students for this completion. For example, I chose to finish my religion requirements first, taking a religion course per semester last year. However, I could have finished my art or tech requirements in the time I spent finishing my religions, and while the previous religion requirements are now removed from graduation, the art and technology requirements still remain; I will still have to finish these requirements, while other students will
save time by be completing their religion requirement with a single new class, or with the World Religion class and an additional minor, in the case of Juniors with no religions completed. Essentially, students who had previously completed both their religion requirements are being disadvantaged, and are getting no less credit for the time they spent in religion classes.
No one sees better than I the advantages of the World Religions course; after all, I voluntarily took religion classes early in my high school experience, and enjoyed them. But making this new class a requirement for the Class of 2018 is both unfair and illogical. I am sure that in future years, the World Religions class will become a staple for all juniors, and will benefit their education. But with the rocky way this transition has been implemented for this year’s juniors, the World Religion requirement is anything but paradise.
This post was edited on December 21st for clarification.