Growth results in full class

Third place, news writing

The student body population has increased by 70 people since last year, bringing up an array of problems when fitting students into classes.

Last year the school’s population was in the 1700’s, according to head counselor Catherine Pereira, but this year it has a total of 1827 students. Each grade has over 600 students.

Predictably, the increase in students has resulted in crowded classrooms, especially in AP and honors courses, which are highly requested.

“I think a lot of our high level courses tend to be very popular, people want to take multiple like two sciences, two maths, and that’s where we see the most impaction,” Pereira said.

The school tries to cap the number of students per class at 32, but many classes have more than that.

Classes like Calculus AB AP, Government AP and Literature and Composition AP all go over the Full Time Equivalent guideline. FTE is measured by class, each class being worth 0.2, so a full time teacher teaches five classes and has a total FTE of one.

“What they do is because my other government classes are under 32, they average it. [I] have a contract that says I can teach, I think it’s 165 students, and so if three classes are at 40 or 39, and the other classes are at 22 it keeps that number below[…]whatever the threshold is. Then legally, I’m still under contract,” social studies teacher Peter Reilly said.

Reilly teaches three AP government periods, all of which go over the limit of 32 students, with his biggest class at 39 students.

Pereira says that this problem is especially prominent in government because every senior is required to take it.

Reilly feels it is the students who are the most affected by the overages in the classrooms. However, his students do not see a substantial disadvantage due to the class size.

“Mr. Reilly’s room is big so that isn’t a huge problem. The only major thing is that we have to have more people present a current event each week to make sure that everyone goes twice,” senior Georgia Eastham said.

The administration at DHS, the district office and the school board all declined or did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

The large class sizes are not exclusive to Reilly.

According to Eastham, her AP comp lit class, with David Achimore first period, had so many students the first day that not everyone had desks.

Achimore has 36 people in both periods of AP comp lit. He says that this presents a challenge returning assignments in a timely manner.

“It makes it harder to get essays back to people because basically each student[‘s essays get] like 15 minutes on the weekend or during the week[…]obviously there’s only so many 15 minutes so if I have fuller classes it will take me longer to get essays back to students. My third period had to wait almost three weeks,” Achimore said.

Senior Robbie Silver agreed, saying that the class size makes it difficult to connect with teachers.

“Large class sizes do probably impede me from having a close relationship with teachers. They have to deal with more students, [and] they don’t get to know everyone as well,” Silver says.

As Reilly points out, each teacher has a lot more students to get to know than students have teachers. That class time is imperative for teachers to be able to create a bond with their pupils.

“[Students] have six new teachers? Maybe 5? I have 175 new students. Don’t you like teachers to know who you are?” Reilly said.

Senior Ojas Sandhu disagrees, saying that the size of his AP comp lit can be advantageous.

“Having a full class is mainly a good thing. More people means more ideas and opinions that can be shared and discussed. I haven’t really felt like there’s any negative impact,” Sandhu said.

As the student population continues to grow, Pereira is concerned that there might not be enough space for everyone.

“As we’re growing we might be outgrowing the school size,” Pereira said.

Reilly worries that filling up classes can even come at the expense of student’s education.

“I’ve been teaching enough years that the numbers don’t bother me, it’s the quality of the interactions is greatly diminished. The feedback [students] get, the types of tests [students] have to take it turns into a cookie cutter approach instead of me getting to know every single student,” Reilly said.

According to the American Psychological Association, his point is valid. Studies have shown that students with better relationships with their teachers have lower levels of conflict, better social skills, get better grades and are more resilient when they are struggling academically.

The administration at DHS, the district office and the school board all declined or did not respond to a request for comment on this story