Living skills over the summer: Good or bad?

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    Sophomore Ethan Mouloudj and junior Emily Hong discuss the reasons why they decided to take Living Skills over the summer. Moulouj and Hong both recommended other students to take the course over the summer as it saved them lots of time. “If they have time and they feel like they have a lot of classes that they want to take in the regular school year, I think it’s a good idea,” Hong said.

    Although summer is still months away, Palo Alto Unified School District summer school signups are quickly approaching, with registration opening online on at 8 a.m. on Wednesday March 7.

    For most students, summer school is taken for course recovery, enrichment or to fulfill necessary requirements to graduate. One course offered in the summer is Living Skills, a class required for graduation that is offered to incoming sophomores and upperclassmen over the summer.

    In Living Skills, students learn and discuss about topics and situations that they are normally not used to in school. Some of the topics students learn are depression, mental health, sexual assault, safe sex, and more.

    According to summer school coordinator Dave Hoshiwara, two sessions of summer school will take place over the summer, with the three-week Living Skills course offered during during both.

    “We are planning to offer 16 classes of summer school [Living Skills], 10 first session and six second session and two classes of econ which run for four weeks,” Hoshiwara said.

    According to junior Emily Hong, who took living skills last summer, taking such an approach was a “good opportunity” to save time over the school year.

    “I took Living Skills last summer and I felt like it was a really good opportunity because I was able to take some yearlong classes this year that I wouldn’t have been able to take because living skills is only a semester,” Hong said. “It opened up some space for me for the actual school year.”

    Hong said she liked how she could fulfill a semester requirement in just three weeks.

    “It felt like a pretty good use of my time whereas is would have been a semester long in regular school, so I kind of liked that,” Hong said.

    Similar to Hong, sophomore Ashley Guo said the Living Skills summer school course was a good choice for her as well.

    “I think it was a good use of time because even though it did take away from summer time, I feel like we actually got through the stuff faster than we would have in the normal school year,” Guo said.

    Many students take living skills senior year because they forgot to take the class over the summer.

    Senior Spencer Rojahn is currently taking Living Skills during the school year and says that he regrets not taking the class over the summer.

    “I forgot to sign up for Living Skills over the summer so I had to take it second semester senior year,” Rojahn said. “If I had the chance I would have definitely taken it over the summer.”

    Sophomore Ethan Mouloudj found that taking the class over the summer allowed him to take more classes during the school year and is highly considering taking another course over the summer.

    “I think I’m going to take economics in the summer,” Mouloudj said. “Any required class that I need for graduation, I’m probably just doing in the summer.”

    Although some students may be in favor of completing Living Skills in three weeks, Paly Living Skills teacher Letitia Burton said that taking the three week condensed Living Skills course instead of the semester long course may cause students to miss out on important, in-depth conversation.

    “Over the course of the semester, a classroom has time to build a community and to build rapport that enables it to have the types of conversations that we have in this class about a variety of different things,” Burton said.  “I feel like students get short-changed when they take living schools over the summer because it really doesn’t offer the same depth of understanding that occurs over the course of a semester.”

    According to Burton, the teachers who teach the Living Skills course over the summer may not have the same qualifications as teachers who primarily teach the course.

    “Over the summer we have teachers who don’t teach living schools and basically we have teachers that are middle school teachers or teachers who teach other subjects that just want to work for the summer as opposed to teachers who are very well versed in the curriculum,” Burton said.

    Burton said that Living Skills is often not seen as important by the community but that it is one of the most valuable courses to students because it offers valuable material that is required in the real world.

    “I feel over time our community has devalued the importance of Living Skills and it is seen as something to check off just so that you can meet graduation requirements instead of being seen as a class that is going to help you look at and shape your ideas of who you are and who you wanna be in the world, that takes time,” Burton said. “I just feel that it is too important of a class to be crammed into three weeks.”


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