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Column: School rule prevents students from going on field trips

Barry’s house secretary Karen Tobin writes down what students will be absent.

by Jared Perlo
From the moment the five-minute warning bell rings at the beginning of a school day until the final stampede out the door, students have a lot on their plate. Ever-mounting piles of homework and a seemingly incessant amount of tests, essays and quizzes keep pupils constantly occupied.

Once in a while, however, the opportunity arises for a student to take a break from regular classroom learning and instead go on a field trip. However, there is a rule in this school’s student handbook that details how “all absences, excused or unexcused, count toward an N except absences as a result of MCAS, AP exams, special education testing and school sponsored exchanges.”

This rule is blatantly unfair to all of the students at this school, many of whom likely crave the opportunity to spice up the monotony of the weekly schedule by changing the pace of a normal school day. For example, if a student misses several days of school because of an illness, he or she might have to consider not going on a field trip with the rest of their class out of the fear that the absence might lead to an N when added to possible absences incurred down the road.

Thankfully, the Student Faculty Administration (SFA) recently brought up this topic, with two sophomore SFA members, Lucine Boloyan and Sarina Wolfe, submitting the Field Trips and Excused Absences Proposal for debate. After weeks of deliberation, the proposal was passed during this morning’s SFA meeting by a 12 to three vote, which means the proposal will now land on Principal Jennifer Price’s desk for her to consider.

As Wolfe and Boloyan explain in their proposal, “The objective of field trips is to learn in an environment other than the classroom, teaching students not only the curriculum, but also how to learn from the ‘real world.’”

Granted, there are perfectly good reasons why the N-rule exists in the first place. For example, a teacher can rightfully be concerned about a student missing out on class time if that student has already missed class several times. However, unless students are in dire need of academic help, they should not be refused the opportunity to go on a field trip because of an arguably minor attendance issue.

Instead of potentially stripping away every student’s right to take part in rare, outside-the-classroom opportunities, the rule should be amended or repealed so that absences that happen while on field trips do not count towards the N-rule.

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