Early release for seniors is an unfortunate waste
September 16, 2019
My high school senior has early release. That means he gets done with school every day at 1:07 p.m. That’s right, 1:07 … except on late start Wednesdays, then it’s 1:09.
Ideally, he could use his early release time to work and save for college, but for student athletes that’s not an option. My son needs to be back at the school for practice before 3 p.m.
Normally, he comes swaggering through the door by 1:30 p.m. and heads to the kitchen for a second lunch. When he’s done eating, he goes upstairs for a nap or some down time on the Xbox. Sometimes, he even brings home other seniors with early release.
Right now, it’s 1:45 p.m. and I have two seniors upstairs watching TV, waiting for football practice.
He knows he could be doing more productive things with his mid-day free time, but there aren’t a lot of opportunities. He could be working on his college applications, or job applications, but he prefers to do that in the evening. He is already taking honors, concurrent credit and AP classes, along with sports, so he chooses to use his time to relax. When football is over, he hopes to find a job.
I wanted to make sure I understood why some seniors had early release, so I contacted the school. The counselor explained the graduation requirements and the number of credits needed to participate in sports.
Our high school, like many in Idaho, offers students release time to take a religious course off campus. Because my son did not take any religious courses, he is several credits ahead. He also took some high school classes in middle school, bumping him up a few more credits.
I asked why they didn’t encourage him to graduate a semester early. The counselor explained, he could not take all the senior requirements in his first semester. In order to graduate, seniors are required to take a full year of math, English, and government classes along with completing a senior project.
If my son decides not to participate in any school sports next semester, he could be done with school at 10:52 a.m., or go to school every other day! If he does want to play sports, he would need to take an additional class (not required for graduation) and stay at school until 1:07 p.m., like he is now. It would be great if he could take additional concurrent credit classes, but he has already taken all of the courses the school has to offer.
Early release is an unfortunate waste of educational opportunities. The counselor informed me nearly 80 seniors have early release this year. When I asked what options were available for seniors like my son, she suggested getting a job or taking online college classes. The online courses could even be paid with government Fast Forward funds, provided the student has any left. The school counselors could help him look for online classes, but he would have to go home to take the class. The school does not have any teachers available for seniors who want to stay at school to take online classes.
Maybe early release helps prevent senioritis. Maybe most kids get jobs and work experience with their free time. Or maybe, they just go home and relax, enjoying their last year of ease before adulthood comes rushing in.
Does your school have early release for seniors?