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AHS students fret schedule shift

ASHLAND — Many Ashland High School students fear a new advisory program and scheduling changes next year could harm their ability to get an after-school job, hamper participation in extracurricular activities and cramp their social lives, student Yeruti Estigarribia told the School Board during a recent meeting.

"I think that a lack of information has gotten a lot of students worried," said Estigarribia, student representative on the board. "They haven't been informed about how the advisory program is going to help them."

Principal Michelle Zundel said she plans to send a student and administrative representative to each English class in January to discuss the new program and answer students' questions.

Under the redesign, students will be randomly assigned one adviser for the duration of their time in high school and will attend 40-minute advisory classes Mondays through Thursdays, according to the tentative schedule. In addition to their regular workload, all full-time teachers will serve as advisers to about 20 students, Zundel said.

The advisory classes are designed to provide students with academic and emotional support, as well as information on career and college opportunities.

Advisory classes likely will include time for journal writing, small-group discussions and exploration of college or career opportunities, she said.

The details of the new program are still being decided by the high school's Advisory Committee, which consists of about two dozen teachers, administrators and students. The committee met Thursday and discussed students' concerns about the program, said Estigarribia, 18, a senior who is on the committee.

Students are concerned they will get out of school 10 minutes later each day, Estigarribia said. "I think students hear the word 'later' and freak out, but I don't think it's actually going to make a huge difference," she said. "But still, 10 minutes is a lot to most students. For me, it's enough time to go home, grab a change of clothes and come back to school for an after-school activity."

Zundel said she doubts 10 minutes of extra class time each day will make a difference in whether students are able to find after-school jobs and do extracurricular activities. "The proposal is for just 10 minutes longer on each day," she said. "Students should still be able to do the things they do now."

Students are also worried about being placed randomly in an advisory class, because they may not have any friends in the class, said Sarah Kasiah, 17, a junior on the committee.

"You might not get stuck with your best friend," she said, "but the point is not to socialize. The point is to get work done and have interesting discussions."

Zundel believes the diversity of the classes will be important and that the students will make friends with each other, especially because the classes will involve team-building activities.

"The students will build community," she said. "Whether they have friends going into advisory or not, they will become friends."

Sarah said she looks forward to having an advisory class next year so she can work on college applications and get advice from teachers.

"I'm expecting it to be a good experience," she said. "I think once students get more information and stop freaking out, they'll see that the advisory program will actually help them."

Hannah Guzik is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach her at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.

Yeruti Estigarribia, left, and Sarah Kasiah discuss their concerns over Ashland High School instituting a new advisory program next school year. Julia Moore / Daily Tidings - Julia Moore