Page 1

The Smoke Signal Pascack Valley High School

October 2015 Volume XII, Issue I

“Where there’s smoke there’s fire”

Supt. addresses feedback on recent changes By Evan Jones Staff Writer

ified that if a student is applying early decision to a school, there is no set date. Students can merely go to their guidance counselors and ask for their grades. In the past, students would have had to wait for the end of the first marking period. “There’s a lot more flexibility with this,” Gundersen said. Pascack Valley has done away with midterm and final exams or, more accurately, Pascack Valley has done away with midterm and final exam weeks. Administrators are not mandating that departments eliminate exams. While PV no longer has weeks dedicated specifically to midterm or final exams, individual departments have the liberty to decide whether or not to give cumulative exams, which would be similar to midterms and finals. “We’re not mandating that subject areas get rid of midterms and finals,

Dramatic scheduling changes had Pascack Valley abuzz last year. Block periods, rotating schedules, Pascack Period, and the common lunch all seemed new and unfamiliar to PV students and faculty. Originally, students and teachers alike had had strong opinions about the changes, but they eventually became accustomed to the new schedule. As year two of the new schedule begins, the PV administration is considering students and teachers’ suggestions collected through a survey that was conducted toward the end of the 2014-2015 school year. Through the data collected, the administration has some ideas of potential changes for the future, but has decided to wait for a second year of data before changing the schedule again. “The overall feedback was very positive,” said superintendent Mr. Erik Gunderson. “The students really rallied behind the new schedule.” One of the largest of the scheduling changes last year was the introduction of the Pascack Period. This 85 minute Wednesday block period was meant to encourage students to branch out and take “alternative” or “learn to learn” classes, led by teachers and stu-

see MIDTERMS on Page 6

see FEEDBACK on Page 6

Photo by Curstine Guevarra

Midterms and finals no longer mandated, marking periods removed By Jamie Ryu Staff Writer

book. “Before, teachers would say ‘I need to make At the end of the last sure that the paper is due school year, it was an- before the marking perinounced that there would od is over’,” Gundersen be some changes to grad- said. “Whereas, if there is ing at Pascack Valley a legitimate reason for a in the upcoming year. due date to be postponed, Marking periods, mid- now you can do it.” Students are conterms, and finals have all cerned about how the been eliminated. According to the super- lack of marking periods intendent of schools, Dr. will affect their final averErik Gundersen, most ages. They are concerned teachers and students are that taking the average of excited about the chang- all their grades will affect the outcome significantes. “There hasn’t been a ly. Dr. Mark Russo, the loud cry from teachers to me about a major issue,” supervisor of the matheGundersen said. “The matics department, said, biggest concern might be “Mathematically speakabout students struggling ing, whether you’re taking ‘an average of an avthroughout the year.” Teachers feel that, erage’ or one average, if while the final grade that the points per marking students get at the end of period were all roughly the year may be the same, the same, there would be the lack of a “clean slate” no difference.” According to Russo, might have a different with the assumption that psychological effect. Students are excited all four marking periods that, since the school has have a similar number of gotten rid of marking pe- points, there will be no riods, teachers will not be change. The one exceprushing to “get one final tion is that if one markgrade” into the grade- ing period in the past had

fewer assessments, those might have counted more heavily when calculating a final average. “It’s actually, I think, a more equitable system,” Russo said. “Now teachers assign a weight to something and that’s the weight they carry.” “At least speaking for math,” Russo clarified, “and that’s really all I can speak to, there’s not going to be a significant change.” Students are also concerned about what grades will be sent out to colleges. Colleges ask for final grades from freshman to junior year. However, they do request “seventh semester grades”, which in the past would have been halfway through senior year. “There is a date that has been determined when we will take a snapshot of senior grades halfway through senior year,” Gundersen said. This “snapshot” will also determine the valedictorian and salutatorian. Gundersen also clar-

"Changes" Edition, Oct. 2015  

A special edition featuring all-new pieces centered around the many changes that have been, or are about to be, implemented at Pascack Valle...

"Changes" Edition, Oct. 2015  

A special edition featuring all-new pieces centered around the many changes that have been, or are about to be, implemented at Pascack Valle...