New senior exam exemption policy to take over at FHC


The clocks slowly wind down. With the loss of time, comes the loss of motivation. After waiting years for graduation, the end is finally in sight. However, as graduation gets closer and closer, seniors still have one thing on their minds: exams.

The exam exemption policy helps keep seniors on track for their final semester as well as reward them for their hard work. Recently, though, the final exam exemption policy has changed. The new exam exemption policy will go into effect this semester.

Vice Principal John DeStefano says the change was in the works for many months now. After conversations with teachers and other staff members, as a group, they decided to change the system.

“We always had an exemption policy,” DeStefano said. “So, there were a couple things we looked at that we felt were not working how we liked them to.”

Starting in the springtime of 2017, the conversation began on how to adjust the policy. Administration and teachers were both involved in making this change, and both parties contributed different ideas to the discussion.

“[Teachers] were part of the people who decided on it,” DeStefano said. “It was much of their conversations that influenced the change.”

Finally, the new policy was finalized this fall. This new policy included many big changes from years’ past. The required grade percentage in each class was bumped up from an 85 percent to a 90 percent. With a higher grade percentage also comes more absences. Now, students are allowed five excused absences per class instead of three. The hope is that this year goes well, and this becomes a long-term policy at FHC.

Teacher Rose Whalen was very excited to hear that the new system was set in stone. Whalen feels that the new policy this year is an improvement from previous years. She believes that this policy is more understanding of students.

“I feel like [change] was definitely necessary,” Whalen said. “Five [absences] I’m not sure is enough, but I feel like five is way better than three.”

Senior Aspen Andriessen was also filled with surprise when she heard the new policy. Aspen believes that this new increase in excused absences will allow a stress to be lifted from seniors.

“Personally, I love [the increased absences],” Aspen said. “I tend to miss school a lot because of doctor’s appointments. And sometimes, there are family emergencies that happen.”

However, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. With the positive increase in absences came an increase in the required grade percentages per class. The reasoning behind these two changes is the heart of the building: the staff.

“We thought five [absences] gave us a little more flexibility there where a kid didn’t feel like they had to be there if they were sick,” DeStefano said. “So, that was one of the reasons we wanted to do that. The staff decided that the 90 percent threshold is what they wanted for kids before they would be exempt from finals. So that’s why that was changed from 85 percent to 90 percent.”

There was a bit of a panic from many members of the senior class in hearing the increased grade percentage. However, many teachers and students think the increased percentage will be beneficial.

“I feel like [exam exemption] motivates them,” Whalen said. “I think when seniors get back from Spring Break, they don’t want to do anything. And so this is kind of keeping them on task– in line. 90 percent is kind of high, but I feel a lot of our kids achieve it anyway.”


Although the percentage is higher, students still feel 90 percent is an attainable and admirable number. But, this gets tricky; for some individuals, a 90 percent is a difficult number to sustain throughout the entirety of the semester.

“If you’re going to be missing more school, you do need to be able to keep up with everything,” Aspen said. “But at the same time, I kind of liked how [the percentage] was a bit lower. I mean, you’re still passing the class, so I feel like I don’t see the huge difference in it.”

Even though changing policies is always a tricky manner, teachers and students are excited to see the outcome due to the alterations. When the change was being processed, the number one priority was the happiness of students. Teachers and the administration hope to remove stress to make senior year enjoyable, safe, and healthy for all.

“This was all in collaboration with the teachers and administration sitting down and saying, ‘How can we make this better for our kids?'” DeStefano said.

There are still variables to take into consideration, and it will be interesting to see how the changes play out, but with compromise and teamwork, teachers believe they can make a near to perfect exam exemption policy.

“If we compromised at 87, or 87.5, I feel like we would include a lot more kids, and that’s what we want to do,” Whalen said. “I mean the whole goal is to make it so that you get a little reward at the end, and not having to take an exam is a huge reward. So I don’t know I would change a whole lot, except I might lower that 90 percent.”

All in all, most are thrilled about the small changes that make a big difference at FHC.

“I just feel like it’s going to be better for students,” Aspen said.” They’re going to be more likely to keep their grades up even higher, which is all around going to make parents happy too. It’s going to look good to colleges as well. If they don’t [keep their grades up], then they clearly don’t care.”