Algonquin principal will address concerns about curriculum changes – Thursday Feb 6 (Updated)

Tomorrow at 7:00 pm, Algonquin Regional High School Principal Tom Meade will address parent concerns about curriculum changes. Northborough in the Know is asking concerned parents of current and future students to attend.

Last week, I shared the news from ARHS about their curriculum changes for next year. The school now plans to require one semester of physical education for each grade, where previously only provided in Freshman and Sophomore year.

In the comments, some parents were appalled by the news.

I expected residents to be happy that there would now be “adequate” physical education. I didn’t understand the impact it had on students’ narrowed course choices.

Wondering what’s the hullabaloo about? Here’s an explanation by “Northborough in the Know” on Facebook:

It is a half year elective but if Junior Year you wanted to take choir or band ( which is a full year course) and then an AP Biology (full year) you couldn’t because the fitness/health would be mandatory 1/2 of the year. You would have to drop the band/chorus, AP biology or maybe your language selection….

This week, Algonquin Principal Tom Meade attended the Northborough Southborough Music Association to answer questions. I’ve been told by some involved that most were still concerned.

Questions purportedly asked included:

  • Why would you start this now with upperclassman?
  • Why make this change without consulting parents?
  • Is there an alernative? (One suggestion was to add an additional slot in the schedule by taking 5 minutes away from existing classes.)

Now, Northborough in the Know shares that Mead will address this issue again at a wider parent forum tomorrow night.

The meeting is the monthly gathering for the APTO (Algonquin Parent Teacher Organization). But, the Facebook post encourages parents of future students to also take notice:

Attention Parents of current Sophomores, Juniors and future ARHS Students. There is a change taking place next year at ARHS that adds a Health and Fitness class to Junior and Senior year (currently it is only Freshman and Sophomore year). This change could be especially difficult for current Sophomores and Juniors in the music/arts/language program who are on track to take certain electives. Mr. Mead met with parents on Feb 3rd and will continue the dialogue tomorrow ~Thursday February 6th at 7PM

If you feel this may have an impact on your child or if you would just like to learn more about the changes taking place please consider attending this meeting.

The meeting will be held in ARHS’ Library.

Update (2/6/14 8:54 am) A notice in the comments last night from APTO spokesperson says that the meeting will be in the library. I made the change above.

(Photo by Susan Fitzgerald)

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10 years ago

My son used to attend Algonquin and we moved before his junior year. His new high school has gym all 4 years and except for freshman year it is a full year course but they only meet once a week. They went the route of adding the extra period and it has worked out great. I’ve been very happy that he has been getting some exercise once a week during the school day. A few years ago they also allowed kids to opt out of fun in the junior and senior year if they were involved in a sport that particular term. Not sure why they changed that policy.

10 years ago

Great newes. My wife and I attended Algonquin and very proud of the fact that we had to take four years of physical education. What is wrong with these parents. Their has been a real change in attitude of parents of todays children that is going too far to the right. No, the parents have no say or right to start telling the school what courses can or can’t be taught. We as students or as parents as our children who also graduated from Algonquin never had an issue that is so minor as this. Grow up parents, get over it.

10 years ago

ROBERT! We are not nuts and nothing is wrong with taking PE. I live across the street from you and I will gladly knock on your door and tell you how this is going to hurt the music dept. and the kids in the class of 2016. The problem with the change is the way it was implemented. The 4 year Course of Study Plan” for the class of 2018 is that all students (except our class of 2016) will now be required to take one semester of Health and Fitness each of their four years at ARHS. That is a total of 4 semesters of Health and Fitness. This leaves two electives for the students who take Band/Chorus/Orchestra. One in 10th grade and one in 12th grade.
The class of 2016 is unique in its Health and Fitness obligation because they will have to take 5 semesters of Health or Fitness and do not have the opportunity of the elective in 10th grade. Not all kids love gym some love music, some art and this change makes it very hard on the class of 2016!

10 years ago

Its this simple – students in the class of 2016 who take music classes will not be able to take AP courses in their junior year. These students, many of whom love and are devoted to their music classes are having to make the hard choice of giving up music, or putting themselves at a disadvantage with their peers who do not do music. This new gym requirement is the sole cause of this dilemma. As described by Janice, the Class of 2016 is being singled out in this implementation plan and is actually be required by the school to take more gym than the state is requiring. The implementation plan is singularly unfair to the Class of 2016.

Frank Crowell
10 years ago

“No, the parents have no say or right to start telling the school what courses can or can’t be taught.”

Sorry to go off topic, but I hope that I am not the only parent who is bothered by that sentence from a former Algonquin student. This parent will be discussing it tonight with two kids and ask a few questions as to what is being taught.

Bob DeMattia
10 years ago

For some students, playing in the band or creating a painting is fun too – and at the same time they get additional experience. The new requirement is especially bad for this years Sophomores who have already take 3 PE courses. They still have to take two more, exceeding the state requirement of 4 courses.

Eileen Cozzolino
10 years ago

As one of the co-chairs of the APTO, we welcome parents to join us tomorrow night. Our agenda is as follows: launch of our new APTO website (designed by students at ARHS); initial presentation from the School Start Time Committee; and then Mr. Mead will address the proposed curriculum changes. The meeting will be held in the Library at 7pm.

10 years ago

Would it be a bad idea to allow students who play a sport outside of school (whether it’s for ARHS or not) to not have to take the course all four years?

10 years ago
Reply to  Annonomous

This would work for many. My daughter does participates in sports and usually has 2 hours of practice every day after school except for days when there are games/meets. Taking another 45 minutes out of the school day for gym is not needed for these kids.

One thing that many may not realize of they don’t have kids in high school is that high school gym class is 5 days a week, not 2 days like in the lower grades. When I was in high school we only had gym 2 days a week also. It seem they could try to work something out to reduce the effect on academics that they change is having.

10 years ago

My kids aren’t quite to high school yet, so I don’t know the in’s and out’s of the current scheduling. At first glance, two periods of electives seems adequate, and forcing 1/4 of them to be gym seems reasonable considering the challenges that our society has with health and fitness. What I don’t understand is how something like an AP class would ever count as an elective. When I was in school AP’s replaced the core requirement, so your electives would still be open or is AP Bio a bad example and we are talking about other non-core AP’s? When I was in school there weren’t as many AP choices. Is the problem also that there are too many other non-essential required classes? Between history, math, science, and english, what else is there? Those four are what I remember plus two electives, are there really only 6 periods in a day? I remember 8.

Simply put, having very little gym sends the message to our children that being healthy isn’t something that we adults think that you should view as important. That is the wrong message.

I do agree that it does seem logical that participating in after school sports should get you out of the p.e. requirement and if one particular class turns out to have a unique case that certainly should be fixed. If this really is about the fear that your kid will only be able to take 8 APs instead of 9, then I think we have some priorities to work on.

Al Hamilton
10 years ago

I don’t think that when someone is deciding on which community to live in the number of available gym classes figures prominently in their decision. The breadth and availability of AP classes does.

We should also recognize the very real economic benefits to families of AP classes. A student with 8 or 9 AP classes under their belt has the option at many colleges and universities of graduating in 3.5 or even 3 years. Given the hideously high costs of higher ed, this is a substantial benefit to families.

On the other hand, if you like “one size fits all” State imposed mandates, welcome to Mass.

I think that if a student can demonstrate that they participate in some form of sports activity either in school or out of school they should get a pass. This could include Marching Band, Intramural Sport, Club Sports, School Teams, some forms of work. or other activities.

Our time in education is precious and each student deserves the opportunity to make the most of it without having to jump through petty hoops.

10 years ago

Times are changing folks. Thankful my son is a Jr. and will only be effected by one year. Hope everyone got to express their concerns last night. I took took Phys. Ed for 4 yrs. while attending Algonquin as well but there is a lot more being offered these days to the students and music and art are a big component not to mention all the different sports that are offered. Hopefully there will be some compromise.

10 years ago

@Curious – There are 7 periods in the day at ARHS. The science AP classes, which many have mentioned, would actually “fit” because they are 7.5 credits (that is, a full year class period, and a first semester lab period). The lab is always first term so that all labs are completed before the AP exams. Some students fill that second semester period with an elective. Some, seniors in particular, take that as a study hall for their final term in high school.

incoming Freshman Parent
10 years ago

what you said is everything i feel. and I believe that the administration feels it as well; however, their hands are tied. They have dodged the mandates for years and now the citations have turned into “do it or you are losing your funding, no more dodging the mandates–get it done”

i absolutely do think that the administration needs to be more creative/crafty but I get the feeling that there was perhaps a window for that and now that window is closed. I also think that if I was the parent of a Sophomore I would be gathering up as many parents as I could and fighting whomever I could find and if that meant finding a State Representative I would do that. Other towns allow summer programs and outside activity to count. I just would not be so quiet about it, letting it just roll out and happen.

as an incoming Freshman parent at this point in the year I am feeling a bit led on, had i known this information it may have shaped my decision making, perhaps we would have applied for private school for our child for next year–taken a chance with the other many, many people who are. I want the AP track and I am not one who feels uncomfortable for saying it–my child already plays 2 sports and does not need any more added to their daily curriculum and I really feel that the State has crossed the line mandating it. I just do not feel as though it is the State’s concern to mandate that my child exercises, a choice to do so is fine but mandating it when there are other classes to choose from makes me as a parent *enraged*. This mandating might just get him one year in public and my husband and I loaned out for the rest of high school education. And that is too bad as I really love what ARHS has to offer BUT I am not sacrificing AP classes/electives for State mandated health and wellness classes. To sit down at the incoming meeting about course selection and see that P.E is on for a 4 year required course made the balloon deflate a bit –after all the talk about how many great classes there are to take the reality is there is just not enough time slots to take them. At all.
I don’t think that my child should have to be down at Guidance all the time trying to work out their schedule, trying to “be creative” —>that’s ridiculous.

Mark Ford
10 years ago

I’m not convinced that it’s too late, and I’ve read nothing regarding pulling funding. Where do you see that?

I wonder what would happen if we were out of compliance–with schools dropping into receivership, whole teacher slates being replaced, and many kids graduating without being able to speak English, I think the Mass DOE has more important fish to fry than a tardy compliance of gym class offerings.

10 years ago

I had no idea this meeting was taking place last night. Wouldn’t a one call from the Principal have been nice? We paid for it, let’s use it!

Al Hamilton
10 years ago

Now Now, Beacon Hill knows what is best for the youth of our community and their families. Parents, taxpayers, educators and citizens are really not qualified to make those important decisions. Really, what were you thinking.

Frank Crowell
10 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

Time for another fluff piece from our state senator and state rep. Open space, increasing minimum wage……blah blah blah.

Another 10th Grade Parent
10 years ago

Among many problems I have with this, it’s particularly frustrating because although the final report which indicates we’re not in compliance was issued September 12, 2012–yes, 2012–(and upon which Principal Mead is basing the curriculum change) –we’ve just learned about the change in PE requirement two weeks before students select courses for next year.

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