Mixed classes contribute to community at Northwest

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Out of 100 students surveyed, the majority agree that mixed grade level classes are better for schools. Mixed grade levels also save space in the classroom and prepare individuals for real life.

A freshman to the left, a senior to the right and even a sophomore right behind. 

Mixed grade level classes have always existed at Northwest and most high schools in the nation–they not only save precious space and time, but they also teach a wider variety of students that all share a common interest.

“For your whole life, you’ve been with the same people same people and schools, so when you get into mixed classes you’re introduced to people you don’t know,” sophomore Ava Fister said. 

This often isn’t found in classes like English, but more commonly in elective courses, such as CTE or the arts, as every student is on a different track than their grade level friends. 

“In general, my academic path and work ethic matches up with the people in the class better than if I’m in a class where everyone is there because they have to be,” junior Shaena Riddles said.

Riddles has been taking classes that are considered above her grade level–including AP BC Calculus–for most of her high school career. 

Riddles has felt isolated in her math classes in the beginning of the year since most of those in the class already have friends all around them. Due to her maturity and work ethic, she easily made new friends and has kept up with them throughout her three years.

“Any situation where you’re not used to working in the situation that you’re in prepares you for adult life,” Riddles said.

She enjoys the classes with mixed grade levels because most of the people there chose that class instead of being required to take it.

In a professional work environment, people typically work with those that could be decades older or younger than them, this slight age difference of young adolescents reveals the fact that their partners in projects will not have the same birth year as they do. Mixed classes help ease students into working with others who aren’t necessarily their age.

“I think it helps (because it can help them in later years,” senior Dylan Byrd said. “The world is diverse and it is always going to be that way.”

Byrd has taken CTE classes every year at Northwest including Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, business finance and personal finance all have been mixed grade levels. 

CTE teacher Angela Wilkerson has been teaching all mixed classes for over twenty years. She and other CTE teachers have the same experience in how they teach classes due to the variations of age. 

“I cannot take for granted that all students know the same things,” Wilkerson said. “Students learn differently at different paces.”

Although she may have to tweak lesson plans for her students, she loves teaching mixed classes because of the ability to students to collaborate and to bring different points of view to the table.

Mixed classes also help save precious time. Having multiple grade levels in one classroom makes it easier for counselors to organize classes without the stress of coordinating grade levels. 

“It would be a ton of classes, so it’s just easier to mix them in together,” Fister said.

It also gives teachers fewer classes to teach in a day, as segregating classes based on grade level would lead to a greater amount of small classes. Teachers may teach two courses at once, so the greater amount of students for one or two periods are crucial to their other classes.

“You can see how well teachers can teach different grades and it expands their horizons,” freshman Hannah Cornwall said. 

On the other hand, parents are worried about their students’ ability to keep up in advanced classes, or even having to slow down in lower classes. Sharing a class with students on a different level could be detrimental to a student’s learning experience.

“It depends on personal academic level and work ethic is a big part of it, so I feel like it’s more of an individual problem the school system would have to face,” Riddles said.

It depends on personal academic level and work ethic is a big part of it, so I feel like it’s more of an individual problem the school system would have to face.”

— Shaena Riddles

This issue of advanced classes for children that may not be ready is more commonly found in elementary schools, as children have far less control over what subjects they learn and are often judged by their testing scores. 

However, high school students are freer in their ability to pick and choose, so mixed classes create a diverse environment filled with students eager to learn about the subject they chose. 

“I think it’s better to have students in their classes they can take rather than what their grade level takes,” Fister said.

Even with a freshman to the left, a senior to the right and even a sophomore right behind a student–their learning environment only expands to new heights as they grow up in high school. 

“I don’t believe the classes reflect my grade level, I think they reflect the academic path that I’m on,” Riddles said.

What is your opinion on mixed classes at Northwest?

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