Large freshman class impacts scheduling options

Kylie Yamada, Feature Editor

In 1991, Bear Creek High School opened with a small student population composed of freshmen, sophomores and a small junior class — just under a thousand students. This year, enrollment has increased to nearly 2,200 students and the effect is noticeable on campus.

Bear Creek’s student body has fluctuated over the years, with a particularly large size in the years prior to McNair High School opening in 2006. After McNair was built, Bear Creek reported a smaller student body, reaching 1900 by the 2013-2014 school year.

This school year, the freshman class entered with about 620 students, an increase from the already large freshman class of 2016-2017 which has 613 students. In contrast, the current junior and senior classes have 473 and 458 students, respectively. Bear Creek has a high level of transfer activity, with many students transferring in and out throughout the school year, so the exact number of students tends to fluctuate as the year continues.

“Bear Creek is growing a lot,” social science teacher Johnathon Clemons said. “I think since my first year, and this is my fourth year, we’ve gained about 300 students. We’ve been growing at an extremely fast pace and it’s been stretching our resources.”

A larger student body can have several possible negative effects on the school, but one effect Bear Creek seems to be experiencing is the complications a larger student body adds to course scheduling especially on a traditional six period day schedule.

The scheduling was affected by the high influx of freshmen, as well as the high demand for singleton AP classes and electives.

For many seniors, the scheduling issues interfered with their graduation and A-G requirements. The classes most impacted by the crowding issue were electives such as Culinary Art 1 and Ceramics 1, which have a high popularity and long waiting lists.

Ceramics also has fewer periods this year than in previous years due to teacher changes. In the 2016-2017 school year, ceramics was taught by two teachers over six periods. This year, it is offered for three periods by one teacher.

“I registered for Ceramics 1 for sixth period but instead I got Personal Finance,” senior Jacob Fry said. “I registered for a VAPA because I needed it to graduate and was placed in a math class, which is not a VAPA. With this, I wouldn’t have been able to graduate.”

One result of the crowding issue is that certain teachers have to share classrooms for different periods. Clemons shares his A26
classroom with social science teacher Karen Russell and changes to A9 for his World History classes, which is used the first three periods by social science teacher and athletic director Jason Johnson.

Underclassmen classes have had particularly sizeable enrollment, so they have exceeded the maximum number of students that can be placed in a class period. The crowding becomes difficult when students need to switch out of AP classes after struggling in the class.

“This year I started with 120 [over three periods] and now it’s down to 97,” Clemons said. I think there are nine students who are still hoping to drop. The nine students trying to drop are told they’re stuck in Euro for now unless they open a new section of World History, which they are trying to do.”

The excess has caused some teachers to sign agreements which allow them to have an enrollment of students above their cap. The cap can vary depending on the subject and the available equipment. A science class may have a different limit than a photography class, which has a limited number of computers and cameras, for example.

“[I learned that each ceramics] teacher has a limit of the students who can be in each class period, which is 32 students,” Fry said. ”Anytime any teacher reaches that limit, if another student wants to enter, they have to sign to say they will not be compensated for the extra number of students.”

AP Macroeconomics had difficulties similar to AP European History, as scheduling intricacies forced the majority of the students taking it into first period: in contrast, only 18 students are scheduled in second period.

The scheduling has been difficult, but manageable. The most extreme cases of students who have had graduation requirement difficulties or several of their classes changed have been able to receive a schedule more to their needs and preferences.

Senior Jordin Fry, no relation to Jacob, was unable to be scheduled into four of the six classes she requested; however, she was able to have her schedule changed within the first week of school.

“[Administration] went and got Ms. Baysinger for me and she fixed it all up for me,” Jordin Fry said.