Seeking acceptance into selective programs causes scheduling stress

Megan Lee | The Chronicle

Mason High School (MHS) students have some big decisions to make and the high school teaching staff is feeling the pressure. 

The week of January 30 through February 3, students were provided with the information needed to fill out the course selector sheet for the 2023-24 school year. While some students may be ready to get scheduling out of the way, many of MHS’s selective classes, like The Comet Zone, Comet Savings and Loan, Cold Case, Wind Symphony, Chamber Orchestra, and Advanced Video Production are feeling the pressure to add new members in such a short amount of time. 

According to Associate Principal of Teaching and Learning, Dr. Robyn Jordan, students must schedule in early February because the master scheduling process is long and complicated. Because MHS provides a variety of different courses, the master schedule is made from scratch depending on the course selections of students. Classes at MHS are not first come, first serve, so MHS staff try their best to accommodate each student’s selection. 

Comet Savings and Loan advisor Cindy Donnelly said that she and her bank staff are at a crucial point in the year where they strive to add new staff members. In early February, members of the bank talked to the Banking and Investments class at MHS about each department and their role, in hopes to urge students to apply. 

With limited time to make staffing decisions, Donnelly has made it a point to involve her current bank leaders and other staff members in the interview process. Donnelly said she is pushing her students to step up and vocalize their opinions of each of the candidates. 

“They’re in a position that they know what kind of person it takes actually to be a part of the bank,” Donnelly said. “And on top of that, our current juniors will have to be working with the students.”

While senior leaders are helping manage applications, Donnelly said the junior leaders of the bank are being pushed to help her make crucial decisions about next year’s staff. 

“It is a student-run bank, so they are the ones running and operating and managing these students,” Donnelly said. “So I do feel like we need their truthful, honest opinion.”

Despite the stress of making good decisions for the upcoming year, Comet Savings and Loan staff members are still creating content and campaigns for the bank. Donnelly said it is empowering to see her students so passionate about the future of the banking program. 

“They’re all still running the business, the class is still happening, despite going through loads of applications,” Donnelly said. “You’re doing it in such a short amount of time you know, we use up every day we can get.”

For under-classmen, scheduling can present other issues, especially when a class requires approval of admission. This means students must apply, interview, and be accepted before the scheduling process can occur. Sophomore Hannah Knuth said the past few weeks have been stressful as she prepares to submit her Wind Symphony band auditions. Knuth said that although students are given their audition months in advance, the busy finals schedule and winter break, caused a loss of focus. 

“The school needs to know each student’s band assignment before scheduling,” Knuth said. “So our directors give us till the end of January to submit our auditions, so they have plenty of time.”

While students in the band are aware their directors must make decisions about placement early, Knuth said it is easy to become stressed with the limited time between her audition and scheduling. 

“At the beginning when we first got our music, It felt like so much time,” Knuth said. “But with the new semester starting, I guess it just snuck up on me.”

Available only for seniors, Cold Case is a class with a select group of students who work closely with law enforcement to solve unsolved cases. Due to the amount of police and student communication, students must be interviewed to prove they have all the necessary skills. Junior Maddie Hunt said she felt pressure when applying to the Cold Case program. 

“Even though the application process was easy, it was extensive and thorough, and it happened so quickly,” Hunt said.

With the deadline to schedule classes quickly approaching, students like Hunt who have just gone through the interview process are left with an unclear schedule. Hunt said she hopes to find out her results as soon as possible. 

“Although it can be stressful, it’s not super bad,” Hunt said “I’d rather get it done now and have the interview done rather than have to deal with it post-scheduling.”

Some students that are already involved in these classes and productions are being asked to provide their own feedback about the students who are looking to join each program. Junior Gabby Affatato, a member of Students Involving & Befriending Students (SIBS), The Comet Zone, and Mason Broadcast Crew (MBC), said she has been keeping her eye out for students with strong charismatic traits to work with her next school year.

“We all work collectively to talk about the applicants and who is going to boost our program,” Affatato said. 

Affatato said that as she prepares for her senior year she realizes the importance of student opinion and ownership especially when it comes to giving more students the opportunity to grow personally and contribute to the collective work done by students in programs like the school store and MBC production team. 

The in-person interaction between MBC staff and other multi-media students is vital to production each month. Allowing experienced students like Affatato the opportunity to sit down and talk with potential new members allows her to make her own connections with the candidates. 

“We all work so closely as a team and we are student-run,” Affatato said. “It’s important for students to feel a connection and desire to work with one another.”

Graphic by Alisha Verma