Sport or class? How students deal with skipping school for games

    Junior Ben Civjan...

    Junior Ben Civjan prepares to hit a baseball in a junior varsity game against Homestead on March 31, at Palo Alto High School. Civjan is one of many student-athletes who need to make academic sacrifices to participate in the Palo Alto High School athletics program. According to Civjan, he had a class with a lighter workload during seventh period, and if he “had a hard class I probably would have had to switch out,” Civjan said. Photo: David Hickey.

    Because of athletic commitments, many student-athletes in Palo Alto High School have found themselves missing class time in their sixth and seventh period classes. This has been a problem for several years and no actions have been taken to prevent this, causing concern among students and teachers.

    This problem occurs throughout the whole year, frustrating athletes with the academic sacrifices they sometimes have to make to make practices and games.

    Many sports including baseball, basketball, cross country, soccer, and track require students to miss class time in order to make either practices or games.

    Junior Leyton Ho, a midfielder for the varsity soccer team, said he often misses class to attend his soccer games.

    “I miss seventh period on both Wednesday and Friday during the season,” Ho said. “I think it negatively affects my class engagement and participation because I am only at one out of three classes each week.”

    Jack Bungarden, head coach of the junior varsity boys soccer team, said his players often have to miss classes due to poor scheduling.

    “This year we compete on Wednesday and Friday,” Bungarden said. “The [soccer] association changed the schedule — we used to compete on Tuesday and Thursday.” This schedule change caused students to miss more class time as school on Wednesday and Friday normally ends at 3:30 p.m., whereas on Tuesdays and Thursdays, students get out by 2:45 p.m.

    For the upcoming spring season, sports including baseball and track and field will have the same predicament that will pose the same problem.

    Junior Tejas Shete plans on doing track and field this year and said that last year’s members had to occasionally miss their sixth and seventh period classes.

    “I often missed my sixth period class for track, which was English last year,” Shete said. “To make up work, I had to put in my own time, although my teacher was quite lenient with late work.”

    Junior Ben Civjan is playing baseball this spring and stated that many baseball players had to get seventh period preps last year because there were many conflicts between baseball team activities and seventh period.

    “A lot of times we had to miss class to go to a game, which a lot of people liked at first, but after awhile it got tough because we were not able to learn in class often,” Civjan said. “Now you pretty much have to have a prep seventh to survive.”

    This forces many students to get a prep or an easy class during seventh period or else they will often miss class time.

    However, students are often unable to have schedule changes due to scheduling difficulties that guidance faces.

    Guidance counselor James Hamilton says that there are many “singleton classes” in the school which are classes that have only one period they teach because of the limited number of students that sign up for it. This causes difficulty among many students who desire to change their schedules because they cannot change the period of some of their classes.

    Because of these scheduling difficulties, students are sometimes forced to drop classes they are interested in.

    “Not all of the students that propose schedule changes can get the classes they want to be in 7th period,” Hamilton said.

    Bungarden said that Paly administrators have tried solving this conflicting schedule problem, but there have not been many successful solutions.

    “Guidance tried to schedule non-academic classes into seventh period, like P.E., but there aren’t enough places — classes are full,” Bungarden said.

    Shete still plans on doing track this year. However, he said he hopes the Athletic Department can fix this issue at some point in the near future.

    “I often fell behind because I was putting in extra time to not only do track, but also catch up with my classes,” Shete said. “I hope they fix the schedule soon.”

    In addition, with the new schedule the Innovative Schedule Committee has implemented for next year, students will be forced to miss even more class time as all days will end at 3:35 p.m. next year.

    Originally, students would only be forced to miss seventh period classes because even days would end at the latest 2:45 p.m.

    However with the new schedule next year, students may be forced to miss even more class time and administration may need to take steps to fix this issue.

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