California state law requires all students to take a minimum of five classes, forcing seniors who have already gained enough credits as lowerclassmen to sign up for classes that aren’t necessary for graduation.
Throughout the day, many seniors walk to their cars to ditch the classes they don’t need. Since those credits aren’t necessary for graduation, they have little incentive to attend.
Senior Vanessa Stabenfeldt is frustrated that she had to sign up for two periods as a teacher’s assistant to fill her schedule this year. “It’s a waste of my day and I rarely go to those classes because I have no reason to,” Stabenfeldt said.
She strongly believes that overall attendance rates would go up if students were able to take fewer classes. “I know a lot of other seniors who are in elective classes that they don’t want or need, so they barely go. If someone already has enough credits to graduate, there is no point for them to take another class just because.”
Senior Katelyn Yeaman agrees with Stabenfeldt. “I feel that students ditch a lot more than they originally would since they aren’t motivated in classes they have no interest in.”
Some students have found that the time they spend in these unneeded classes cuts into their time for other activities. Senior Yuta Saito claims that he would rather use the time he loses in his TA period for SAT prep.
Senior Molly Alcorn signed up for a peer helping class to fill the five class minimum. “I work at the Davis Fencing Academy four days a week, so it would be nice to get out earlier so I could get all of my homework done before work.”
Although Alcorn shows up for the class every day, “it’s getting harder and harder to go.”
Counselor Courtenay Tessler, however, fully supports the five class minimum.
The school only receives Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding when students are at DHS for at least five periods.
Tessler supports this requirement and has no objection to enforcing it. “I like to get paid,” Tessler said.
Tessler believes that many students push themselves too hard in their first few years of high school by trying to earn all their credits right away, which leaves them with too few required courses their senior year.
“They push and push, and then when they reach their senior year they think, ‘what now?’” Tessler said.
Tessler always encourages students to draw out a four-year-plan for themselves so that they can split up their required classes throughout their high school experience and ensure that they aren’t left unsatisfied with their schedule their senior year.
She thinks that when students first enter high school, they are more focused on A-G requirements and getting into college than enjoying life as a teenager. “It’s all about balance,” Tessler said.
According to Tessler, if students allow themselves time for other activities each year instead of piling up all of their classes right away, they are more likely to enjoy all five required classes as a senior rather than dreading the random electives they are left with.
“Life is not a race, it’s a journey,” Tessler said.