Kudos to the Counselors

Lexie Clemmons, Reporter

 In the midst of a disaster, your very own MHS counselors came to the rescue, and the best part? You had no idea.

    Let’s take a second to look back to the sunny, bittersweet, 13th day of August, 2015. It’s 7:00 am on the first day of school. Freshmen are wandering around, stuck in a daze, hopelessly seeking their first block classes. Sunkissed sophomores stand around gushing over their “turnt” summer break in a slightly different spot than last year’s because- hey, they aren’t the underdogs anymore. Upperclassmen are a rare sight, as most of them are still asleep or even worse, sitting in their cars thoughtfully considering reasons to not come to school. Sounds like your typical Mehlville High School, right? But something’s different..

    Suddenly, the halls erupt with sleep deprived, zombie-like seniors storming towards the counselor’s office, but why? The cause of all this madness can simply be described with one, two syllable word: schedules.

    It is common knowledge that our school lost quite a few amazing staff members due to lack of job stability, which was a direct result of the budget cuts put into effect in order to .. the deficit that our district is facing. What many students do not know, however, is the effect this had on the educational environment at Mehlville, though many of them were being directly affected by it.

    Many students took the liberty to speak out on this very fact, and they were heard loud and clear.

    Jacob Butenhoff, senior, had a few comments on the issue. “I signed up for Foods II and Woodworking II but got put into the intro classes of both,” he dismally stated.

    Butenhoff explained that he’d tested out of both intro classes with the permission of Mrs. Neighbors the year before but, to his surprise, they appeared on his schedule the following year nonetheless. Unfortunately, Butenhoff is not alone.

    In most classrooms, students can be found trudging through a course that they’re uninterested in and that they never signed up for. There are even instances where a student was placed in an advanced placement class without requesting it. If this doesn’t apply to you, it’s almost sure to have affected someone that you know. So what’s going on? I, curious as well, met up with some of Mehlville’s greatest to find out just that.

    The process of creating the schedule is a long and arduous one and the submission of the course request sheets is simply the first step. After all students turn in their marked up scheduling form, your counselors must go through every single sheet, taking note of how many students want each class and whether or not there are enough teachers to even offer all of them.

    To put that into perspective: there are currently five counselors on staff at Mehlville, 1,823 students, and 101 teachers. Multiply the number of students (1,823) by 7 (the amount of classes each student will request), that sums up to a whopping 12,761 individual classes in total. Even disregarding prerequisites and graduation requirements, that is a significant amount of work. As if that wasn’t enough, every schedule has to fit in a way that allows each of the 1,823 students here at Mehlville to be in a class or at lunch at any given time throughout the school day.

    You may be asking yourself, ‘So what? Is that not what happens every other year?’ If so, you’re correct. But wait, there’s more. Due to the previously mentioned budget cuts and teacher resignations, there are now four teaching positions that are left unfilled, meaning, “we initially lost 100 seats per block,” stressed Elizabeth Neighbors, College and Career Counselor and Department Chair.

    This is an extremely substantial amount and has made quite an impact on not only the school’s functionality, but also staff and student morale.

    “With the cuts that we had in all of the different departments,”  stated David Pitts, counselor of the class of 2016, “we just didn’t have nearly the amount of options that we’ve had in the past.”

    He explained that seniors requested tons of various classes this year, even on their alternatives, that they weren’t even able to offer this year. As a result, students had to be placed in any class with open seats that they hadn’t previously taken. After going through this process with seniors, it must be repeated for each class down to the freshmen. As I’m sure you could imagine, things could oftentimes become pretty frustrating.

    In closing, Mrs. Neighbors had one final statement to offer, “we had to figure out: how can we meet as many student needs as possible? Because that’s our goal,” said Mrs. Neighbors.

    Knowing the entirety of a situation is crucial, especially in the rumor-filled environment of high school and creating a schedule that will cater to 1,823 specific needs is obviously no easy feat. So, next time you catch yourself complaining about your classes, take a second and appreciate the fact that you simply have a desk to call your own, and then you can offer some kudos to your counselors.