I get to leave school during the day, how about you?

Averie Hernandez, Staff Reporter

Students at Normal West High School are allowed to leave school for a certain amount of hours in the middle of the day. What?!  It’s true, but only under one condition. You have to take a blended class.  These classes allow students to work independently from outside of the classroom to finish any assignments given to them by that teacher. 

Blended classes are treated similar to college classes where most of the work done in that class is done outside of the classroom. The purpose of a blended class is to create a flexible schedule for students to understand how to manage time and to ease into the transition to college or the workplace. There is a full explanation on the Normal West High School website listed here. 

Normal West High School main office scanner to keep the in and out traffic organized throughout the day. Photo by Averie Hernandez

There are 1,650 students that attend Normal West High School. Though not all classes are blended, there are quite a few, which means classes of twenty some students are allowed to leave the building during that specific hour. How are the teachers able to keep track of so many students? It seems overwhelming from the outside looking in, but they have created an efficient system that keeps track of attendance by scanning their student ID cards. 

Some teachers disagree with blended classes for that reason. They don’t like thinking about the fact that students could be out and about during the school day. Most teachers become overwhelmed with not knowing if their students are using their time appropriately for the classwork they are given. However, some teachers at Normal West  are in favor of these classes though. 

Blended classes can differ schedule wise depending on the teacher. Some teachers will post weekly schedules on Google Classroom on Sunday night to let the students know when they are allowed to leave during the week. Other teachers will let you know the day before and tell you what work you will have for that flex day. Although this changes per teacher, the rules stay the same for everyone. 

The rules are that you can work in the IMC, Atrium or anywhere in the school to get your work done for that blended class. Or you are allowed to leave the school and work on it somewhere outside as long as you get back to school on time. Blended class privileges can get taken away from students or even full classes if the rules are not followed. 

Mr. Nathan Fincham, the Earth and Space Science teacher says, “For most of the students in a blended class, it is beneficial.  I feel that it gives students more responsibility and forces them to be more organized and self motivated, which will be challenges they will see post high school.” He thinks blended classes teach lessons that students will learn on their own. He finishes by saying, “There won’t be a teacher there to guide them on a daily basis, they will need to be able to do these things on their own.”

This photo has 6 stickers representing why students get to leave. It helps manage the different reasons students will scan out. Photo from Angie Codron

Another way teachers are able to keep students accountable during blended classes is through a sticker system. Associate Principal, Mrs. Angie Codron, explains this to the teachers as a refresher each semester.

“There are stickers that we will be continuing to use for various blended style classes: Blended Classes, Innovative Entrepreneurs, Work Program, Internship, etc. Julie Nikolanci keeps the stickers that we will be using for student IDs this year to help communicate the traffic flow in and out of the front door.”

Administrators and teachers are able to keep track of everyone very easily. This way it keeps students from saying they have a blended class when they don’t. It also prevents students from  trying to leave school in general when they can’t. 

This is a photo of Carlie Boitnott using her time wisely as she works on her 6th hour class assignments in the IMC. Photo by Averie Hernandez

Information such as teachers’ opinions and administrators have been positive. Each student who was interviewed said similar things as well. Senior Carlie Boitnott (pictured to the right), has had many blended classes during her last two years of high school says, “I chose blended classes because I believed it would prepare me for college classes and help me become more accountable on the days I don’t have class.” Preparation for college seems to be an ongoing benefit for students and teachers. 

Though she listed positives of having the freedom to leave, Boitnott also stated, “The system for checking in and out is alright. Obviously technology doesn’t always work correctly so there have been times I have scanned and still been marked absent.” She believes that, “the process might be able to be more clear if we went to the women at the front desk and scanned in front of them.”

Any system such as this one, allowing a school full of 1,650 students to be able to come in and out of the building, without consulting an adult, will have its flaws. Although, after taking a deeper look, the benefits of these blended classes seem to have a positive effect on students and teachers for their preparation for college.