The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Graduation requirements may rise at VHS

School principal asks board to consider more math, science and electives


Valdez High School students may need to hit the books a little harder in the coming years if the school’s principal, Dr. Elizabeth Balcerek, has her way.

Balcerek asked the board of education to back a review the school’s current class requirements needed to obtain that all important diploma during its last April meeting. She also wants to tighten up on requirements that students pass the additional classes asked for, including an additional year of math, science and one elective.

“We do have kids who feel like they can fail” some classes and not worry about the ramifications, Balcerek told the board.

Balcerek said in an interview later that she hoped to bring the school’s required classes up to the minimal required classes needed for college acceptance - regardless of whether or not a student is college bound.

Under the proposal, the class of 2017 would need to earn 27 credits to graduate, up from the current 24, which is the state’s minimum standard.

She said in today’s high-tech world, even entry level jobs require strong math and reading and seniors who are college bound are not being properly habituated to attending class if they are allowed to take only a few minimal courses their last year of high school. She said she also felt that taxpayers will be better served by maximizing student hours in the school.

“The taxpayer needs to feel what we do is of substance,” she said. “You can’t let the kids choose not to come to school half the time.”

Valdez Star file photo/ Tony Gorman

Upcoming graduating classes of Valdez High School may have to reach higher standards than in previous years, such as graduating class of 2012.

Balcerek also said the school’s faculty recommended upping the requirements for graduation before she brought the concept forward to the board.

“The faculty has recommended this,” she said.

She hopes to have the higher standards in place for the incoming freshmen this August.

Students that have already begun their high school careers, students attending as sophomores, juniors and seniors in the FY14 school year, would not need to meet the new requirements if they are indeed instituted before the beginning of the new school year.

At press time Tuesday morning, it was unclear when the process would begin to up the current graduation requirements.


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