Monday, March 26, 2001

Graduation requirements increased

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        MONROE — When this year's eighth-graders graduate from Lemon-Monroe High School, they will have taken double the number of science and social studies courses required by the Class of 2001.

        Over the next four years, graduation requirements will increase from 21 credits this year to 26 by 2005.

        During that same period, the number of required elective courses students take will decrease from 10 to eight.

        Left unchanged is the requirement that all students earn a half-credit in speech, technology, health and physical education.

        “I'm really excited about this,” said board member Carol Brotherton, who has an eighth-grade son. “This was an area that needed to be addressed. I believe it is our responsibility as a dis trict, as a board of education, to make sure our students are prepared for higher education, for the work world or whatever they do next.”

        The new requirements were approved by the school board last week and take effect next fall. With the changes, all students will have to take at least one English, math, social studies and science course each year.

        New to the list of requirements is one credit each in a foreign language and fine arts. Among the required courses are biology, chemistry, two algebra classes and geometry.

        “The fullest impact will be on the incoming freshmen,” said Monroe Superintendent Arnol Elam. “Students will get a good, solid academic background by going through this rigorous curriculum.”

        Under the school's block scheduling, students have the opportunity to earn up to eight credits each year and could graduate with upward of 30 credits. The current requirement of 21 credits meant that students could meet graduation requirements during their junior year.

        Increasing the graduation requirements was one recommendation that came from the district's curriculum committee, made up of educators, parents and community members, said board member Suzi Rubin.

        Parent Dona Talbot said she likes the increased requirements.

        “I'm tickled. Both of my older two are college prep students,” Mrs. Talbot said. “This comes closer to meeting the college requirements, which are getting steeper and steeper. I'd rather see them taking math or English than electives.”

        If freshman Shawn Fearnside represents the student body, the increase in graduation requirements won't be too popular.

        “I don't really like it too much,” the 15-year-old said. “I'm not too good in some of those subjects and I'd rather get them out of the way early as a freshman instead of taking them every year.”


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