Students mourn the loss of mixed chemistry class

Ryan Wisowaty, Editor-in-Chief

Science Department Instructional Lead Erik Olah discusses the reasons behind the mixed chemistry class being discontinued. Photo: Ryan Wisowaty

Students who were enrolled in “mixed” chemistry, a class that once was lauded as an experimental alternative to honors science, say they are disappointed that the class was canceled for this year.

Erik Olah, the department’s leader, said the decision to drop the school’s “mixed” chemistry course largely resulted from the departure of Kelli Hagen, who previously taught the class.

“Ms. Hagen moved away, out of Paly,” Olah said. “When she left, no other teachers wanted to pick up the class, so the class was removed,” Olah said.

The course has been an off-again, on-again class that began under the auspices of a former teacher that combined normal and honors chemistry in a single classroom with one teacher. Some students were dismayed to learn that the course was discontinued.

“I was kind of disappointed when I heard it got canceled because I’ve never tried a blended [mixed] class before so I was really looking forward to seeing how the class would operate,” junior Katherine Han said.

Other students viewed the class as having more freedom for unsure students to move between the upper and lower lanes.

“I have a couple friends who took it and they said they were bummed because it was a cool idea for people who weren’t sure of what they wanted to do,” sophomore Ayush Ganguly said.

The course is described in the 2018-2019 course guide as an opportunity for students to experience both honors and college-prep material with students of both honors and college-prep-level being taught in the same classroom with the same teacher. The course included the same content as other honors/college-prep chemistry classes; however, the different lanes were assessed at their respective levels. Students could switch between the lanes up until the second quarter without needing to change their schedules, according to the course guide.

According to Olah, the class began as a way for students to be introduced to honors-level coursework without being limited to one class or the other until the second quarter.

“I think there was maybe some, intimidation might not be the right word, but trepidation for some students to, you know, go and take chem honors and I think it’s a way to have … students seeing like … what does it take to be successful in … an honors class,” Olah said.

Olah said the class ran smoothly and students seemed to be successful.

“As far as I know, … this is my first two weeks on the instructional leader of science job so it wasn’t really my job to monitor the class and figure out whether it was successful,” Olah said. “I’ve heard good things; I’ve heard mixed things about it. As far as I know, it was running and students seemed to do well in it.”

The remaining students who had signed up for mixed chemistry for the 2018-2019 school year were placed in either chemistry or chemistry honors classes.

Students requiring to lane up or lane down must do so by either the date of the second exam or the end of the first quarter, respectively, according to the course guide.