During the next couple years, Kennedy will be instituting some changes in its scheduling system and requirements. Specifically, the requirements for gym will be different starting next year, and Kennedy will be switching to semesters the year after that.
Neither of these changes were actually decided on by Kennedy itself. The P.E. changes are state mandated, and switching to semesters was a district decision.
However, it should be pointed out that the “changes” to the state-mandated gym requirements are not actually changes, because those were technically the requirements all along.
“[The gym requirements] have always been a state requirement, we’ve just never been in compliance,” said Brian Annis, one of Kennedy’s P.E. teachers. “They’re now cracking down on gym waivers and making sure everyone follows the gym requirements.”
According to these requirements which Kennedy is now in compliance with, students can take one academic waiver per year and one athletic waiver per year. Seniors will also be able to take one off-campus waiver a year, which is applicable if they are enrolled in classes that take them off of the Kennedy campus, such as the Kirkwood Academy courses.
“Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors will all have to take at least one term of gym a year,” Annis said.
This will therefore impact what classes students will have to take during the day, and this could be a problem for some students. For many, gym waivers are important because they allowed them to take classes that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to fit in. In other cases, it was just used even though students could have fit in a gym class, but didn’t want to have one more class in the day.
“I have a zero hour through sixth hour, so fitting in a gym was really difficult,” Sweta Sudhir, so., said. “I ended up having to take early bird gym winter term [next year], when previously I didn’t have to take any gym at all. So that’s going to be a major inconvenience next year. I will be able to manage with it, but it’s not something I look forward to doing.”
This newly enforced gym requirement created a less than ideal situation for Sudhir, but she has been able to work it out.
“There were a couple things I had to switch around in my schedule, but for the most part the gym thing ended up working out, just not in a convenient way.”
When changes are implemented in the scheduling requirements for Kennedy, it affects more than just the students. The counselors, who are in charge of making the schedules for the students, are greatly impacted by these changes.
Elizabeth Wessels is a member of Kennedy’s scheduling staff. She was able to explain some of the reasons behind the changes, as well as what planning and preparation is being put into it.
Wessels explained why it is that the semester system is being implemented in two years as opposed to just one year.
“It’s basically just planning purposes,” Wessels said, “there’s a lot of things that will go into changing to a semester schedule. Basically all of our curriculum will have to be adjusted, because right now it’s planned out on a trimester basis. Especially the one term classes, or some of the science courses, will have to be completely redeveloped to fit a semester time frame.”
The change will even impact things like transcripts, since current freshmen and sophomores, as well as next year’s freshmen, will have attended Kennedy both in trimester system and the semester system, so their transcripts will have to reflect as such. The possibility exists that some students will have to have two transcripts.
“It’s not as though we don’t want to do semesters,” Wessels said, “we just want to make sure we have all our ducks in a row before we implement it.”
This change to semesters is being implemented district-wide, and Cedar Rapids is not the only district doing so. Districts like Iowa City are making the switch as well, and many districts in Iowa are already on semesters.
“There’s only three or four districts in the state of Iowa that are on a trimester schedule,” Wessels said, “so it’s really to make things a little bit more consistent.”
According to Wessels, switching to semesters won’t have much of an impact on students’ pre-made scheduling plans-that is, students who took a class one year knowing they were going to take another class the next year or the year after.
“It shouldn’t impact [pre-made plans] too much,” Wessels said, “the way I could see it impacting more students is students who take one term elective courses. Those could be affected, because you’ll only have two chances to take those instead of three.”
Jason Kline, Kennedy’s principal, pointed out another benefit of Kennedy being on a semester-based schedule.
“The district sees a better opportunity for students on semesters to take advantage of the Kirkwood courses, because they’re on semesters,” Kline said.
Kline also commented on how it came to be that Kennedy is now closer adhering to the state gym requirements.
“The district came to all three high schools and said that we needed to make sure that we were doing it in this way,” Kline said.
One interesting thing Kline pointed out was that once the semester system is implemented, the gym requirements will stay the same. That means that students will still be able to take two gym waivers if they meet the necessary specifications for that waiver, but there will only be two terms in the year. So once semesters are instituted, students will be able to go back to using waivers for the whole year.