Club binders and executive meetings are useless and do not benefit clubs as a whole.

Editorial: Executive meetings, club binders are ineffective

Before every executive meeting, club presidents scramble to finish club binder summaries and reschedule tutorials to show up for another meeting that regurgitates the same information of all meetings preceding it.

The ASB Handbook states clubs have many responsibilities, including maintaining a well organized club binder, attending executive meetings and providing a full membership roster. With these responsibilities, clubs are also required to attend executive meetings and keep updated club binders.

Executive meetings can be efficient if scheduled only when appropriate and club binders are, simply put, outdated and unnecessary.

Staff Editorial

Executive meetings are required for club officers, but end up discussing information that is aimed at the entirety of the student body.

Despite the redundancy of information, it is mandatory for club officers to attend these excessive meetings to avoid getting their club deactivated.

To avoid wasting the time of club officers, executive meetings should be scheduled only when needed.

The only necessary executive meetings are the ones that deal with the ASB budget, the application procedure for school grants and other funding and the voting on proposed new clubs being recognized on campus.

These particular meetings are valuable, but they only take place a few times a year. Executive meetings should be shortened or held sporadically for only these specific events, instead of happening as often as other legislative meetings.

In addition to the executive meetings, club officers are required to maintain a club binder. The binder serves as a catalog for all club activity, such as meetings, minutes and the constitution that describes how the organization runs.

The contents of the club binder are important and should be preserved, but the traditional method of keeping the documents in a physical binder are outdated and archaic.

A Google document would suffice for everything a club binder holds, saving both paper and materials, as well as time. Club officers would no longer have to wait in lines during lunch to have their club binders checked by administration. Instead, officers would be able to submit their documents online and avoid the hassle.

The binder’s contents could be easily checked and updated at any time, and storing everything online would prevent information in physical papers from being lost.

The executive meetings should be held for only important club-related information, and the binders should be put online to save time and resources. It may seem necessary, but the binders and executive meetings are wasting precious time.

Corrections: Due to an error in the uploading process, an outdated version of this article was printed on February 2, 2017 in Issue 4.

Editorial: A waste of paper, time and practice

It might seem difficult or even impossible to get a perfect score on a final exam in a class as challenging as AP Biology. But somehow, an unusually high number of this year’s students did just that.

They were able to do so by memorizing test questions from a practice test they took online. Yes, the AP Biology curriculum builders chose to make the final exam an exact replica of an online test — this was a failure on the staff’s part.    

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To accurately assess students’ knowledge, teachers must administer an exam that cannot be found, memorized and reviewed online prior to the exam.

AP classes are intended to prepare enrolled students for the nationwide AP test taken in May, and due to the schedule of the test, teachers must administer a second semester final similar to the actual AP exam, but prior to the scheduled date of the AP test. Teachers usually use a test from an archive of previous years’ tests. 

In order for students to be well-prepared, teachers often recommend taking multiple practice AP tests either by purchasing AP practice books or taking tests online.

The students of this year’s AP Biology class listened to the advice. Third period, the first class to take the final, realized the final exam was an exact copy of the most recently released online practice test they had studied with.

The word spread. By the next day the final exam was administered, many students knew exactly which test would would appear before them.

The administration eventually found out and decided not to include the scores from the portion of the test identical to the online version in the grade book.

Denae Nurnberg, the assistant principal in charge of student activities and AP testing, spoke with each AP Biology class period informing them of the administration’s disappointment in regard to students’ actions.

On May 2, both Nurnberg and interim AP biology teacher Lawrence Laskowski lectured each period about academic dishonesty. In these lectures, the staff criticized students for failing to prepare themselves by memorizing answers to the final.

The administration should focus less on critiquing students and instead focus more on how students’ knowledge was being assessed, a responsibility both teachers and staff hold.

If students are recommended to take practice tests online, there can be no complaints that the students typed “AP Bio practice test” into Google and took the first test they found, nor that students scored high on the final exam.

The only people complaining should be the students.

Teachers should be giving students an opportunity to succeed through assessments that test knowledge. As an easily accessible online practice test, the final exam did not give students an indication of their preparedness.

Yes, students who memorized answers for the sole purpose of boosting their grade cheated themselves of an opportunity to test their knowledge, but they cannot be the only ones blamed. Questions available for student use online should not have been used in the first place.

According to College Board, the website provides “complete AP exams available to teachers, but inaccessible to students.”

Had the teacher chosen one of these tests, all of this trouble would have been prevented.

It is one course of action to criticize this year’s students for borderline academic dishonesty, but it is a much wiser solution for the administration to admit their mistakes and to reform the final exam for next year.  

This year’s AP Biology final exam was a waste of time, paper and opportunity for preparing students for the AP test the following week. Let’s just hope next year’s students — and staff — are better prepared.  

 

Editorial: Transparent elections are a must

When students cast their ballots for next year’s representatives, they play a major role in deciding how the school will be run.

The same concern has comes up every year and is never been addressed by administration: why aren’t the election results displayed?Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 4.33.45 PM

Yes, the winners are announced through a sheet of paper hung on the ASB office door. But by what margins did they win? How many total votes were cast? How many people really voted for unopposed candidates?

All of these questions deserved to be answered on that same paper.

Unlike homecoming court, any student can choose to run for class office and ASB positions, with the exception of president and vice president (these positions require a year of experience).
The homecoming king and queen victory margin is irrelevant because it is an honor to be nominated, but voters deserve to know the election results for the next school leaders.

Results courtesy of the Survey Monkey survey sent to the student body
Results courtesy of the Survey Monkey survey sent to the student body

By making a conscious decision to compete for a leadership position, these students are accepting the burden of campaigning for themselves and the possibility that they will be defeated.
The school inadequately prepares students for the real world when they decline disclosing election results due to concern for candidates’ feelings rather than allowing a transparent voting procedure.

Students running for office must be prepared to lead the school if they win and respect the student body’s choice if they lose. If potential candidates are not prepared to handle the outcomes of transparent elections, they should not run in the first place.

It’s not just the class officers who deserve to know how many votes they earned. The student body deserves to know the margins of victory or defeat of their candidates.

The Epitaph conducted a school-wide survey in which almost 68 percent of students voiced their opinion to see the numerical election outcomes.

The Epitaph chooses to disclose the exact results from all surveys conducted as proof of fairness and equal opportunity.

People have accused the student elections of being rigged, or the administration of tipping the scale. While The Epitaph cannot verify these claims, providing transparent election results would reassure the student body.

Implementing such transparency would be simple, thanks to the digital voting software used for elections. A simple “file, print” should do the trick.

For the sake of our school’s democratic values and for the promotion of student-administration cooperation, the Editorial Board respectfully request the voting percentage results of each ASB candidate and class officer candidate.

Editorial: Rethinking how we think about college

Ask a random senior for college application advice and you’ll most likely get an answer to the tune of “Do what makes you happy. Don’t join clubs just to look good for college and don’t overburden your schedule.”

We’ve finally gotten the message that more does not equal better when it comes to our applications. But according to a report by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a number of changes need to be implemented to make that message work at all.

We at the Epitaph fully agree that the problem goes far beyond the individual actions of students. In fact, there is a distinguishable “trickle-down” process: the actions of the colleges at the top of the heap effect change on the ways and lives of all students.

The report suggests that colleges and students must work together to make college applications more tuned to students’ meaningful contributions, their familial situations and how much pressure the application process puts on them.

This attempt to level the playing field by eliminating elements that are either prohibitively expensive or stressful to students would be amazing — if schools actually did something to answer the call.

Yes, top officials from prestigious colleges — 85 of them as of the press release — endorsed this report. But it remains to be seen how seriously they will take their promises, and how quickly they will act on them.

The need for change is immediate. This year’s college application season is coming to a close, but next year’s is fast approaching. In the interim period, it is up to colleges to enact the changes the report recommends.

And these changes are not hard. The nature of the application process will not be fundamentally altered if students are required to write short essays about two or three of their extracurricular activities, rather than listing out the whole ten. No job on the admissions committee will become substantially harder if those involved must consider the home lives and familial contributions of students.

Admissions departments can hardly say that they consider the ‘whole’ student if they only look at our honors, accomplishments and extracurriculars. What they’re really looking at is the picture we create of ourselves during the school day. That picture starts in the morning when we leave our house and ends in the evening when we return home.

While the Common Application does ask some cursory questions about race, ability to pay application fees and family members, there are no specific questions about students’ home life.

This paints a dismal picture for a student who, for example, helps support their family by doing chores and preparing meals while their parents are at work and takes their little siblings on weekend outings but because of this has few extracurriculars.

The report recommends minimizing, if not totally excluding, the weighing of test scores and advanced classes, but this simply isn’t enough. College apps need to consider the full picture of what socioeconomic status means, something that can’t be solved by test fee waivers.

Many people will complain that we can’t change the system because it’s always been this way. They say that it’s the system they grew up with, the system they applied to college under. But we have changed the system before. Certain colleges have eliminated their requirements for standardized test scores and, just last year, the Common Application added language to their forms to make themselves more inclusive of transgender students.

The changes the report is suggesting are more radical than most, but they are still necessary. We live in a world where college admissions are so complex and secretive that students resort to trying to do everything in order to ensure their admission chances. The system is biased, racially and socioeconomically, and the amount of pressure it creates can give students a choice: your application or your mental health.

It is clear from the atmosphere on this campus that students, teachers and parents are doing their best to ensure the success of HHS alumni at college. The impetus is now with the colleges: make your standards for admission clearer, more open to everyone and less secretive.

 

Editorial: The mess of ‘Run, Hide Defend’

“It’s just like tying your shoe,” School Resource Officer Tom Bond said, “the more you practice [‘Run, Hide, Defend’ drills], the more comfortable you become.” The problem is that students don’t have enough practice.

If an active shooter attacked our campus at any time during the school day, most students would not know what to do.

Yes, students have been practicing safety drills for years, but a lack of knowledge and respect for procedures puts students and staff in danger during a real emergency situation.

There’s only so much law enforcement can do to prepare students and staff for active shooters. Santa Clara Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Bond and the rest of the School Resource Department provide training for all district office staff over the summer.

But the School Resource Department waited to train teachers on campus until late October, which is far too late in the school year. An active shooter could potentially attack campus on the first day of school. If new staff and students, especially freshmen, aren’t trained by the department in the early months of the school year, they won’t be adequately prepared to protect themselves and those around them.

The presentations on “Run, Hide, Defend” are beneficial, but the Sheriff’s department should train campus staff over the summer, during the professional development meetings. While current regulations designate these meetings be for curriculum development only, it is imperative that staff is instructed on proper protocol in emergency situations, rather than in staff meetings that are much easier to miss.

The FUHSD administration has taken a positive step by regulating the ways to secure classroom doors. The administration has standardized safety mechanisms for classrooms by purchasing two-by-four wooden planks and vise grips for every classroom to block entry.

But these devices are useless if students don’t know how to use them. Teacher training is important, but student training is equally vital.

It takes copious amounts of manpower for law enforcement to schedule lockdown drills – the county sheriff’s office needs to make sure they have an adequate number of patrol officers on the streets, have enough officers for the drill and make sure the proposed day of the drill is convenient for the school.

When teachers hold lockdown practice should not depend on whether or not the administration has scheduled a lockdown drill. If teachers care about the lives of their students, they should hold their own drills in each period. Just as zero-tolerance and academic honesty is mandatory for the school to cover by a certain time, so should the “Run, Hide, Defend” procedures.

The best time for teachers to practice lockdowns is during mandatory tutorials in the first weeks of school. Every teacher should explain their procedures for each period to ensure students are prepared and informed.

Every student should know how to make a barricade for each of their classrooms. They should be able to use the security mechanisms to lock the door as well as know the location of the devices.

Teachers usually use mandatory tutorials to go over the class syllabus, but at a time when school shootings are an increasing risk, establishing a plan for student safety should be a greater priority for teachers during that time. Surely 30 minutes of class time can be spared to cover emergencies. Student safety is far more important than course information.  

If teachers are not providing students with this information, it is in the best interest of the students to find out for themselves. After all, it is their lives on the line.