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Class of 2014 faces new graduation requirements

Photo: Kaydee Miller

The new financial literacy and math requirements are getting mixed reviews from the new freshman class.

By Andrea Rollert and Nikki Kelley, Features Editor and Staff Writer

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Some people think the world will end in 2012. Others say 2013 will be an unlucky year. No one knows for sure about those things, but major changes are definite for the Class of 2014. With new added curriculum, the Fairmont experience will be slightly different starting with the current freshman class.

The changes are a part of Ohio Core and consist of an extra math credit and a new Financial Literacy requirement to graduate. This makes the school’s standards stricter and gives the current freshmen less control over the classes they take.

“Across the state, there is a push for increasing rigor in classes and getting kids college-ready,” said Principal Dan Von Handorf. “And Ohio Core for this year’s freshmen is designed to ensure those kids are ready for college or a career after high school.”

An extra math credit

This year’s freshmen must now earn four credits of math before they can graduate if they expect to attend a four-year college in Ohio. Math Department Chairman Scott Mitter is ready for this change. “I think raising standards is a good thing,” he said.

In order to help students earn that fourth credit, the Math Department is making some changes. “We’re in the process of changing Foundations of College Math into four semester classes so it gives students Algebra II equivalency over two years,” said Mitter. This means that struggling students can earn the Algebra II credit needed for a four-year college over the course of two years to learn the material at a slower pace.

Some freshmen are unhappy with the new requirement. “I liked just having to get three math credits from the start,” said Chris Termuhlen.

Financial literacy requirement

The Financial Literacy requirement has students and administrators buzzing as well. Some students, such as freshman Blake Maynard, believe it’s a good idea. “The Financial Literacy requirement sounds like it’s preparing us for real life,” he said.

While some students agree with the new Financial Literacy requirement, freshman Connor Nienhaus doesn’t. “I know times are hard and we need to up the education to get better jobs, but I think the new requirements are harsh on struggling students,” said Nienhaus.

Von Handorf supports the idea of a new financial literacy requirement. “To be a contributing member of society, you need to be literate financially.”

However, administrators understand that adding another required class to the already somewhat strict curriculum will be difficult for the Class of 2014 and beyond, so students at Fairmont will get this requirement as part of the Planning for College and Work or Career Explorations class. Sophomores must already take one of these two classes, so the financial literacy curriculum will be folded into those classes.

Many students are happy to hear this news. Freshman Cheyenne Bechtolt thinks combining the already required classes and financial literacy requirement will really help. “With my schedule more open, I can use the time to get help with things I’m struggling with,” she said.

Freshman Emily Hay agrees. “It gives you the option to choose courses more toward your career choice,” she said.

Changes not just at Fairmont

These changes are coming to Kettering, but also will be seen across the state of Ohio. Nienhaus believes these changes are problematic. “I think this will hurt the education system in Ohio because it will cause fewer students to graduate, and we need more graduates for jobs,” he said.

But Maynard sees things differently. “I think this will help the education system in the state of Ohio because it’s preparing us for what is to come,” he said.

Parent and teacher views

The students will deal with the changes directly, but parents of freshmen parents also have strong opinions on the new requirements. Judi Rhoades, mother of freshman Chris Rhoades, disagrees with some of the changes. “I think the amount of credits they need is already fine,” she said. But Rhoades thinks the financial literacy requirement is a good idea. “I think students need to take these classes. Kids need to learn about these concepts.”

On the other hand, Anthony Rhoades, Judi Rhoades’ husband, likes the idea of both changes at Fairmont. “I feel like it’s needed because some kids are slackers and don’t grasp the concept of how many credits they need. These new arrangements will wake them up,” he said. “Also, I believe they should have these classes because it teaches kids about life. Those are things they need.”

Teachers also have strong opinions on the matter. Fairmont Career Explorations teacher David Link is satisfied with the financial literacy changes at Fairmont High School. “I think the requirements are well-defined, very good, and cover what the students need to know at their age,” said Link.

Because Link teaches Career Explorations, he knows what the new financial literacy curriculum will bring to students. “It’s based on budgeting at home. The teachings consist of how to write a check, how to manage a checkbook and how to buy a car,” said Link, listing several of many financial skills the class will teach.

Mixed reviews from freshmen

These changes only apply to the Class of 2014 and the classes that graduate after them. Some freshmen look forward to these challenges, while others aren’t so certain. Cory Harbarger is one of them. “I sometimes wish I was born a year earlier because I want to learn how to be an adult on my own,” he said.

But freshman Briana Williams thinks learning financial matters in school is a good idea. “We will get the most updated information and not learn how things were when our parents started handling money,” she said.

Sierra Bechtolt agrees. “With the class, everyone will be taught one way so financial terms and ideas will be understood throughout the state, instead of everyone learning their own way.”

Fairmont freshman Olivia McKenzie wasn’t surprised to learn that when teenagers across the nation took the National Financial Literacy Test, the average score was only 52.4 percent. “A lot of parents don’t really teach their kids about financial literacy,” McKenzie said. “So it’s not really that surprising when people are on their own and they lose their money.”

Although not all of her peers are on board with the new requirements, McKenzie is taking a positive approach to the changes. “It’s cool to be the ones that have something new,” she said.

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The school newsmagazine of Kettering Fairmont High School.
Class of 2014 faces new graduation requirements