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BHS Freshmen Choose Small Learning Communities for 2021-22 School Year

On February 17, the freshman class at Berkeley High School (BHS) chose the Small Learning Communities (SLCs) that they will be in for the rest of high school. Although the process was altered to accommodate distance learning, the registration was similar to past years.

“It would have been nice to be in person,” said Linden Koshland, a freshman in Hive 3, “but under the current circumstances, it definitely worked well.”

In the weeks leading up to the registration date, teachers and counselors informed students about the different SLCs. Teachers had various approaches, such as presenting slideshows for students to take notes on, hosting question and answer sessions, and assigning homework involving the BHS course catalog.

Additionally, each freshman was able to attend an online event where current students in each SLC gave information about their school, as well as the pros and cons of attending. 

“It was helpful to kind of get a sense of the actual people who are in those communities and why they went into them,” said Koshland. She said she selected her small school by deciding which student presenters she related to most, and why they chose their school.

However, Hive 2 freshman Pia Wetzel found the student presentations in need of improvement. According to Wetzel, there was not enough diversity in the presenters, both in terms of experience and race. Because all the presenters really enjoyed their experience in their SLC, Wetzel thought that it was not a complete view of the average student experience. 

“Every single SLC tries to present themselves as the best option,” Wetzel said. “In reality, that’s not how it works.”

In terms of actual registration, a Zoom call was set up on February 17 for all of Universal 9th Grade (U9). Each hive had a designated time slot where students were taught how to register and were assisted in the process of choosing their top choices. 

“[Registering] went very smoothly for me, it was clear how to do it,” said Koshland. “For the circumstances, I feel like they adapted [the registration] quite well.”

Despite the range of information given by BHS, both Koshland and Wetzel found that they learned the most by themselves.

Koshland independently researched the SLCs online, and the information she found was most helpful in making her decision.

Wetzel said they were very privileged to have a sibling who had gone through the SLC decision process, as well as friends in higher grades, because they were able to make a decision simply by hearing others’ experiences.

The new term system was one of the main changes in the process of learning about the SLCs. 

“I think [teachers] had to fit in the information with the curriculum they’re trying to teach, which is already packed down,” said Hive 7 freshman Rider Lopeman. 

Students also learned about the options in only one term, so only half of their teachers were able to teach them about the schools. This meant that some students, like Wetzel, only had one teacher willing to talk about the SLC options. 

Wetzel said they wish they could have registered in person. “[In person] I could talk to my teachers better,” they said, “instead of just talking through Zoom, because it’s so much less personal.”

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