The honest answer is no one. Academics are a must, obviously, for graduation and basic skills. The arts are an enriching experience for everyone involved, whether it is music, drama or drawing. Sports provide physical activity and camaraderie to active students. Clubs are a service both to the school and the community.
So where does Leon choose to make the dreaded cuts?
Currently, it highly probable that seventh period is the place where the money will fall short.
This year, Leon County decided to only fund 300 minutes of class time for each student enrolled in its schools. If you do the math, that’s only six periods. Two-thirds of Leon’s student body, however, is taking seven classes a day.
Thanks to an accumulation of money obtained from the Advanced Placement classes that Leon students have passed, Leon was able to pay, albeit out of pocket, for the extra period. Since some students opted out, the final number of students enrolled in seven periods is approximately two-thirds of Leon’s student body.
The seventh period has been the extra something special in the school day. Since most students take four or five academic classes, having a total of seven periods leaves room for not only one but two electives.
This is the part of the day when choices can be made not by a guidance counselor or parent or advisor, but by the student; it is their turn to select what intrigues them, not what interests of a college admissions officer.
Eliminating seventh period eliminates the chance for students to explore new subjects. Not to be too trite and cliché, but seventh period truly gives us the opportunity to grow, both mentally and creatively.
Leon offers such a colorful plethora of electives, from construction to comparative government to weightlifting. Even the very newspaper class that I write this column in is at risk of being discontinued.
A selection of sports teams also have the privilege of having a seventh period class. For the varsity lacrosse, tennis, baseball, softball and volleyball teams, this time is vital for conditioning in the off-season and practice during the whirlwind seasons that high school sports are allotted.
The success of Leon athletics often rests in this fifty minute period.
Without a seventh period, Leon students lose the possibility to take that additional class, to learn an extra subject, and to pursue less “traditional classroom” interests.
Yes, I realize that in the grand scheme of school budgets and other financial decisions, cutting seventh period may be the most logical choice.
It is logistically impossible to fund seventh period the same way that we did this year. Where the extra money would come from is a mystery. Currently, there is a lack of funding, not an abundance.
This economic downturn doesn’t just affect the Wall Street investors or business owners. As students, our education is going to be aversely affected.
We are losing the enriching extra classes that make school enjoyable, creative and active. Seventh period is a valuable part of the day. It would be a shame for us to lose it.