Head Principal Nathanael Hostetler Addresses How Snow Days May Affect Graduation

Snow+falls+in+St.+Charles.+Six+snow+days+over+the+course+of+two+weeks+significantly+changed+FHN%27s+schedule%2C+pushing+the+last+day+of+school+to+June+8.

Credit to Shahed Abdallah

Snow falls in St. Charles. Six snow days over the course of two weeks significantly changed FHN’s schedule, pushing the last day of school to June 8.

By Justin Brewer

UPDATE: The last day of school for seniors will be May 28, while freshmen, sophomores and juniors will have their last day on June 8. Read more here.

After many snow days, students were left wondering what the end of the school year will look like. Some questions arose about whether seniors would have to return to school leading up to and after graduation. Head Principal Nathanael Hostetler addressed these questions.

How is this many snow days going to affect the last day of school?

“It’s going to push it back. Currently our last day of school is June 8 so that is actually after graduation.”

With this many snow days, the last day of school is being pushed back past graduation. Is that going to affect graduation at all?

“Graduation is actually set, I don’t even know how many years ahead of time. Essentially we reserve that space at the Family Arena pretty early because, as you can imagine, there are a lot of large high schools that like to use that. I know the Rockwoods do, I think Pattonville does, Zumalt does. Lots of schools utilize that, so we have this Saturday reserved for the three high schools pretty early on. So graduation is set in stone, it will be on the fifth.”

Will seniors have to go to school up until graduation, graduate and then come back to school to complete those last two days?

“So we’re kind of sorting through what things are going to look like for seniors because bringing seniors back after graduation is pretty problematic. In fact, bringing seniors into school up to the day before graduation is a pretty bad deal too. Once we finalize grades, and it takes some time to certify them, we need to identify who has earned summa cum laude, magna cum laude, cum laude. A lot of times there are seniors who have failed a class and we need to get them through an online course in a pretty big rush. So really the idea of even going up until the day before graduation is problematic.

Have there been any proposed solutions to that?

“That’s a broader conversation that we are having with all three high school principals as well as the academic team at the district level. There are some potential solutions in mind.”

Is there the possibility that the snow days will be taken away from set days off or spring break?

“Generally speaking, taking away days off doesn’t actually work that well because families plan trips or have events or whatever it is. I’ve worked in schools where they have done that and generally attendance has been abysmal, it’s wildly unpopular and it’s just not a great play. So there hasn’t really been any conversation about that that I have heard. I would be surprised if we head in that direction.”

Are there going to be final exams at the end of the semester? Will the snow days push the exams into June?

“I believe that we will be able to have final exams. I do know that we have some potential hurdles that we will have to overcome. I will be surprised if we are done with quarantining by then although I certainly hope COVID numbers are much lower and they are, as you know, continuing to drop. So that finals schedule is yet to be determined but they would almost certainly take place in June. We can’t just have finals in May and then come back for a week and half and hope kids do good things. It’s not going to work.”

Was the option of doing AMI (Alternate Method of Instruction) days considered?

“So that conversation actually took place maybe in September. Essentially the superintendent and the academic team had to make a decision if that was going to be the plan. So if we’re going to ask teachers to run an AMI day, then we have to give them time to prepare for that, we have to give them an idea that that is going to happen and we have to give students an idea that that is going to happen. We can’t just, on Tuesday, decide that we are going to do AMI for Wednesday and Thursday, that’s not going to work.

So the decision had to be made relatively early on and one of the considerable issues with an AMI day for us is we are not 1:1. There is no guarantee that every student has a device. So when we went to virtual instruction during lockdown in March of last year, we put considerable effort into getting some of our chromebooks into the hands of students who did not have devices. The turn around plan was better than a week. So throwing an AMI day in on a Tuesday in hopes of a Wednesday working out was not in the cards.”

Is there the possibility the district will implement AMI days at some point in the future?

“It was a part of the conversation this year we would just have to have a plan for device distribution or what that would look like. So ultimately, Dr. Hoven decided not to do that for this year but  that certainly doesn’t rule that out for the future.”