Columbia HS Principal Aaron Reminds Students of Summer Assignments, New Bell Schedule

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 The following letter was emailed to Columbia High School families on August 11:

Dear CHS Families:

We hope this email finds you well and enjoying summer.  If your student still hasn’t started to work on our summer math review packet, please be sure to locate it

Please review our recent email about our new bell schedule , replacing one that split teacher and students into two different school day lengths, which made it difficult for all students to see teachers for support and prevented teachers from having shared time for collaboration, planning, and professional development. This year, we have adjusted our bell schedule so thatall students have a 9-period day to allow for access for students to all our curricular offerings, and all students and staff start and end at the same time. It is attached to this email.

Breakfast service at CHS will begin at 7:15 when our building opens (students enter at that time for the cafeteria only, through the cafeteria door) and will end at the first bell at 7:45. Our main door for entry at Parker Avenue opens for all students at 7:45 am at the first bell.

Since last January, Columbia counselors have been working to build a course schedule for each student to accommodate their needed credits for graduation as well as elective choices and AP course requests as much as our budget, staffing, and facilities allow.  Over 1100 students made requests for AP courses and all have received at least one of their selections. Many students are taking 2, 3, and 4 AP courses in alignment with our commitment to the district’s recently passed Access and Equity policy.

Course selections were processed in priority to students for whom an AP course was the next course in sequence and for seniors who had planned their academic coursework to culminate with or include an AP course in their senior schedule.  Non-seniors for whom an AP course was the next sequential course were afforded courses, as were students for whom an AP selection was a first endeavor.  Working with those priorities, we filled almost 1160 seats in AP classes. Other AP placements and availability for students were determined by factors that included the constraints of our master schedule, teacher availability and certification, courses that must run  in conjunction with or in opposition to other courses, and all decisions were impacted by budgeting, staffing, and facilities.

Please know that budget cuts in SOMSD resulted in the elimination of a member of our school counseling department. As we adjust the case load of students to counselors, please know we are making every effort to make that transition smooth for counselors and students and will update you as August progresses if your child’s counselor will change. Beginning next year, all CHS students will keep their counselor for their four-year career at CHS, rather than have a 9th grade counselor and then change for grades 10-12.   We wish good luck to Dr. Giordano, departing after a decade of service at CHS leading that department, and look forward to welcoming a new supervisor in that department in August.

Schedules will be available for students to view in Powerschool during the week of August 22. At that time, students who may need to request any changes should do so in person in the guidance office with our counselors. A schedule of office hours for those change requests will be sent to you when we send out the notification that schedules are available. As was the case last year, we will not conduct a “drop/add” period, expecting that students have selected courses carefully over the past few months, been working on summer assignments, and are ready to begin the school year with those choices.  Should you still need access to Powerschool, please email Ms. Voorhees at rvoorhee@somsd.k12.nj.usfor assistance so that you can view your child’s schedule in two weeks.

As we roll out the unified bell schedule, many more students – especially our underclass ones – will find that they do have a study hall. Our expectations for study halls are that students will use them to do homework, PSAT/SAT/ACT skills practice, work on college research, interest activities and applications, be able to make up missed assignments, and use academic labs as available. Please work with your student should develop the strong study habit of always having something to work on during the study hall period. As students’ academic needs and areas of growth emerge, we will be working closely with supervisors and counselors to integrate supports into that time for your student.

AP summer assignments are important to help students be ready for the rigor of their AP their courses and to allow teachers to begin the school year with a indicator of student skill and preparation for the early part of the course.  Summer assignments have been emailed to students through student rosters, and in some cases are available at the CHS and/or department websites. Summer teacher support is available to students through our FAST program. Please see the FAST schedule attached and on our home page for that schedule and encourage your student to take advantage of it as the summer draws to a close.

Your student must have a valid student ID at CHS at all times, and will need it as the year progresses to do things like sign into study labs and/or the library as well as take our PSAT in October. Students may get a free replacement ID anytime between 8:30 and 12:30 in the CHS main office.

9th graders are especially invited to stop in the main office at CHS to get their IDs from Monday through Thursday next week, in our Main Office, from 8:30 to 12:30.  

Thank you for your support of our students, our staff, and CHS

Elizabeth M. Aaron

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