October 18, 2012 at 4:20 am



GSA is very lucky to have a great administration. After all, it’s not every high school that has Arts-Fest, IS, senior privileges, or Debbie in the front office.  Most students are very appreciative of what the office does for us, and know that they have our best interests at heart, but a recent policy change has caused some consternation among the student body.

I am, of course, talking about the new attendance policy, which is designed to reduce absences. A committee made up of eight teachers and two administrators, all of whom felt that a missed class equals a missed learning opportunity, shaped the policy. They felt that even if you can make up a missed class later, nothing really equals the experience of actually being in class, discussing the material, asking questions, and all that good stuff. The problem with the old system, Mr. Moore stated in an interview, was that a large number of kids took advantage of it, missed a lot of school, and consequentially received poor grades. The new policy tries to fix that problem by penalizing excessive unexcused absences. An unexcused absence means that you cannot make up any tests or anything you missed that day. Four absences in one semester will earn you a talk with Mr. Moore, a scary thought in itself. Eight will mean that you will not receive a grade higher than a 70 in the class in question. Fifteen absences mean that you won’t get higher than a 60.

Now, let me clear up a few misconceptions. First of all, the absences are counted by the number of classes missed, not days missed. That means that if you miss a week of school, you will be counted for three absences, one for each class, instead of five. Secondly, some absences will be excused: family emergencies, doctor appointments, religious holidays, pre-excused absences and documented illness (for a ‘documented illness’ to be considered documented, you will now need a doctor’s note, not just a parent’s note). A pre-excused absence is when the student has previously gotten permission from Mr. Moore to miss school.  For other kinds of absences (family vacation, for instance) you will be able to make up missed work, but the absence will still be counted against you.  Also, any absence could be appealed to try to get it erased from the record.

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