Tori Vander Putten
HCPSS Board of Education has come together and decided to make a major change to the high school system; there will be a 13th grade, meaning that there will be five years of high school. Following the successful pattern of the Wallowa County School System in Oregon and Grästorp in Sweden, Hammond High School will be the pilot school for the county and the students in the class of 2022 will be the first ‘thirteeniors’ to graduate.
Research has shown that most seniors either do not receive admission from their top schools or they do not believe that they are ready for college so they take a gap year. In order to decrease the amount of students who deal with either of these obstacles Hammond’s 13th grade will provide classes that are focused on preparing students for life beyond high school. Mr. Seibel, the ninth grade administrator, noted that the fifth year of high school “will include English 13 and Advanced Algebra GT for all students as a way to prepare students for a technology-driven world.” Before the entire county switches to this program HCPSS has decided to select Hammond as the dry-run because it was chosen as the School of Opportunity last year and this is an opportunity to improve the school, the county, and even the state.
This year’s freshman class will be thirteeniors and though they may not realize it now, this is an amazing advantage for their post-high school careers. Freshman Olivia Vander Putten heard about the 13th grade and is ecstatic because, “as a freshman I will be now graduating after 13th grade, and I am excited to be a high schooler for five years! That’s five Spirit Weeks! Although I do not love learning, I am glad that the school system is helping its students to expand their knowledge so that we are all ready for our future.” There is no telling how much scores will increase by when students are able to retake classes that they may not have done well in or just failed entirely. Though there will be an English 13 students will be allowed to take electives that they may not have taken before and they will be allowed to retake any class in which the student earned a C or lower overall.
Mrs. Nunley commented that the 13th grade will allow students to “get some additional support that they may not necessarily get when they go off to college. I think it’s a great opportunity for students to get a jumpstart. 13th grade all the way!” Even though the current sophomores, juniors, and seniors will not experience this change, Junior Malik Shuaib was able to express his opinion, “Because I am a junior I will only go to 12th grade, but I wish that I was given the opportunity to go to 13th grade. I would have more time to get ready for college and maybe even go back to English 10 GT with Mr. Osborne so I can earn an ‘A’ on the Word Tracing.” Throughout the next couple of years various HCPSS officials will observe the thirteeniors and decide whether or not to continue this change in the other high schools. If all goes well the entire state of Maryland will have secondary education that includes five years.
When Dr. DiPaula was asked about his opinion on the 13th grade he was absolute