Senior Early Outs: Faculty Opinions & Updates

Senior Early Outs

Implemented in the spring of 2020, the class of ‘23 has become accustomed to seniors getting to leave at 2:30 every other day. Now, with ‘23 officially reaching senior status, it has become a hot topic with many questions and rumors arising. Will there be senior early outs? I interviewed some members of the Academic Magnet faculty, including Mr. Perlmutter, to see if there is a general consensus on the matter. As it turns out, the AMHS faculty seems to be divided.

Interviewed teachers were Mr. Jent, Ms. Desbrow, Ms. Hurt, and Ms. Smith. Another member of the faculty would prefer to remain anonymous. The interviews, with the exception of Ms. Hurt’s, were conducted via email.

Who supports senior early outs and why?

Among the teachers interviewed, several were in support of early outs. However, some teachers favored restrictions on early outs or a compromise. 

Mr. Jent, a French and AP Research teacher, supports early outs for seniors who have good grades. He stated, “I believe early outs for seniors is an earned privilege for those seniors that are in good standing in all of their classes.” This could provide another incentive for seniors to do well (especially with senioritis looming around the corner) and could allow seniors who need to improve their grades to do so without as many distractions in study hall. 

Ms. Desbrow, on the other hand, fully supports early outs. She believes that this would allow seniors to access the resources they need—which may be outside of school—to successfully complete their research projects which they only have a limited amount of time to do. She stated, “Seniors should have early outs in order to conduct successful AP research projects.” 

Ms. Hurt supports more of a compromise when it comes to early outs. Instead of a 2:30 early out time—although there is no official plan put in place—Ms. Hurt suggested a middle ground where seniors get out at 3:00. She stated that this would greatly improve traffic flow in the parking lot. Currently, depending on the parking spot, Raptors can expect to wait up to half an hour in the parking lot.

Who is against senior early outs and why?

The teachers against early outs have good intentions and plenty of reasons.

Ms. Smith does not think students should get early outs. Among her reasoning, she stated that “AMHS designed a program of studies for students that allowed them to take 7 classes and a study hall versus 8 classes as required at most schools…a design intended to support all students due to the heavy hitting academics here.” She recalls her 8th grade CCSD recruitment fairs in which she was the IB Coordinator at James Island Charter High School. At the fairs, Ms. Peterson—a former AMHS principal—would tell prospective AMHS students that there would be “limited electives and that there would not be any early outs.” Therefore, Ms. Smith claims it is the “design and tradition” of Magnet to not give students the ability to leave study hall early. She further states that “early outs were only established here as a COVID mitigation—they are not the tradition. As a teacher of seniors who often procrastinate and don’t do their work (not all but some), and as an astute observer of young adults for more years than I want to count, I believe that if students are in a study hall, that they are more likely to be productive. However, if they leave campus, then I do not believe they head straight home to study and prepare for the high level of academics at this school.” She points to her own experience in high school: “And, finally, many, many moons ago, when I was a senior, I had an early out.  I came home, ate a big bowl of ice cream with a Snickers bar chopped on top while watching soap operas (are those still a thing?) and rotted my brain. Then, as a freshman at Clemson, I was in for a big wake up call and reality check when I had forgotten how to manage my time and study.” 

Another faculty member takes the same position as Ms. Smith, pointing to college applications, make-up work, AP classes, and meetings as reasons not to give seniors early outs. Looking into the history of early outs, they state that “we have only had early outs for seniors 3 times. First time was Quarter 4 of a year [spring of 2020] and only for students who had finished senior thesis (predecessor of AP Research). Second time was 2020-21 to alleviate so many students on campus during COVID (juniors also had early out then). And then finally, last year.” Furthermore, they stated, “I had many seniors who had to be redirected to class lessons, assignments, etc. last year as they worked on college applications, for example. When I asked students to share information in some weekly check-in surveys, they indicated frequently that they were stressed because of college applications during most of the first half of the school year.” They take this position because they believe it to be in “the seniors’ best interests.” Ultimately, they state, “​​I will support whatever decision is made by administration and help seniors work with it either way.” They would be in favor of some sort of early out later in the school year to help with traffic flow.

What is actually happening with senior early outs according to the administration?

According to Mr. Perlmutter, “We’ll get senior early outs in place as soon as is prudent, but until then our seniors have a lot of really important work to do in study hall. The college acceptance process is competitive and unforgiving. If students want to be in the most advantageous position for college admissions, the time to do that is now- before October.” 

It seems only time will tell.

My opinion

As a senior, it is probably obvious that I am in favor of early outs. I personally believe that I am more productive at home and that the ability to leave early would open me up to more resources than just being limited to what is available in school (especially when it comes to college applications). With college right around the corner, I think it is best to let us manage our time to prepare for the less structured college environment. Of course, there is also the insufferable parking lot traffic motivating my position. However, I respect all the opinions listed above and, ultimately, everyone is trying to work in our best interests.