“The auditorium held more than 1,000 students for over two hours. It was quite claustrophobic and a lot of pushing and shoving was going on. There was no movement and we were almost completely still,” said junior Alexandra Gruzinova, describing the scene in the auditorium on Friday, September 7.
For the start of the fall term, program corrections were changed to be completed in two days: the first for correcting program errors, the second for program change requests. They were scheduled for the first two days of the school year, Thursday, September 6 and Friday, September 7. This year’s switch to a two-day schedule was the first time it has been tried. In previous years, seniors, juniors, and sophomores were each given their own day for program corrections. Afterwards, a fourth day was allotted for freshmen and anyone else still in need of a change.
The decision was made in an attempt to get students into class as soon as possible by shortening the amount of time allotted for program corrections. The shortened schedule was added to the school calendar and presented to a cabinet consisting of the various department Assistant Principals, in addition to Interim-Acting Principal Jie Zhang.
Assistant Principal of Pupil Personnel Services Eleanor Archie believes that while there was no cabinet opposition to the schedule change, they did not foresee the large turnout of students for the second day of program corrections. “On the first day we got a lot of people but [the students] really knew what errors were, so there were not that many,” Archie said. “For the next day, it was more than we expected […] we only managed to take half of the kids.”
For the most part, the waiting process for program changes was the same as last year’s. Students were asked to wait near signs on the first floor’s walls with their guidance counselor’s names printed on them. They were then brought to the theater in small groups for changes. Inside the theater, all of the guidance counselors and the academic Assistant Principals were on stage to facilitate program changes. “Where we could, we accommodated,” Archie said. “The [students] were orderly and lined up. I do have to give them credit in that respect.”
Students were initially asked to sit and wait but many chose to stand in the theater aisles as increasing numbers of students entered the theater. “[Conditions were] not only hot, stuffy, and uncomfortable, but unsafe as well. People were jumping onto the stage. Someone could have seriously gotten hurt,” junior Stephanie Au said.
As a result of the substantial number of students, many had to wait for a while to be called up but most were able to get the changes they requested. “I had to wait for a very long time for my program changes, but […] I eventually got them,” sophomore Eric Zhao said.
For the Program Office, the shortened schedule was time-pressing and more challenging to handle than in years past due to factors such as new class codes. “Program changes were horrible this year not only because of the two-day decision, but also because of new codes for each of the classes,” Programming Chair Sophia Liang said. “We had to figure out which code went with which class, which made the process longer. Program changes are a lot more complicated than people think.” She also mentioned the two-term senior physical education requirement as another complication.
Since there were more students than expected, those who were not helped on Friday were asked to return on Monday, September 10 to receive their changes. Additionally, program changes continued for the next few days through the individual guidance counselors. “It was two days of insanity. There were queue problems and students waited too long for changes,” Liang said. “Kids waited on line for hours on Friday, got sent home at 4:30 p.m., and were told to come back on Monday. The Program Office staff was in the building until eight or nine at night trying to get [program changes] done.”
Archie believes that the two-day program change schedule will not be repeated in the future. “We realized how many kids were disappointed, especially the seniors. Everyone saw how chaotic it was to have one day,” she said. “I don’t think it will be repeated next year.”