By Ken Burchett, associate editor

SEPTEMBER 2022 — Juniors at Bio-Med Science Academy are required to take 7.25 credits worth of classes with only six class periods in a day, and some juniors have opted to take additional classes, adding even more credits to their schedule. Many juniors have expressed that they have been feeling overwhelmed due to the workload.

“You’d think that the workload wouldn’t be that bad, and it’s not, but it’s the fact that you can slowly see it building,” Alex Levy, a junior, stated.

Bio-Med juniors are required to take a total of nine classes: College Career and Civics (CCC), Integrated History 11, Anatomy & Physiology (A&P), Integrated Math 3, Integrated English 11, Biomedical Engineering, health, physical education (PE), and Integrated Art 3. Health and PE are worth half a credit, and Integrated Art 3 is worth a quarter of a credit. All other courses are worth one credit.

Students in the Integrated Math 4 course work on a project. Starting with the class of 2024, Bio-Med switched from having math classes divided by subject to integrating all subjects into each year. Pre-Calculus was one of these classes, and provided foundational knowledge required to take Calculus. Now, with Pre-Calculus content split between each year, students would need to take all four integrated courses to receive this prerequisite knowledge. For the first half of the year, these students will be learning Integrated Math 3 content at double the speed, utilizing advisory class time. Then, they will learn the Integrated Math 4 content. Photo by Ken Burchett, associate editor.

CCC and history share a period, or core, as well as A&P, PE, and health. Integrated Art 3 grades are attached to assignments in core classes.

Additionally, students are able to take Newspaper if invited, Yearbook, and/or Integrated Math 4. They may also take Spanish III online through Bio-Med, as well as any College Credit Plus (CCP) courses. All of these classes from Bio-Med are worth one credit, while CCP courses vary.

Jacquelyn Collins, the guidance counselor for grades 10 through 12 at Bio-Med, listed potential factors to consider when taking additional courses.

“Some of the benefits are the opportunities in learning about subjects that interest students. It may be beneficial on their transcript and applying to colleges and extended knowledge in a subject area,” she said. “A drawback may be that [students] feel overextended as far as time or energy in trying to manage extra classes.”

Integrated Math 4 takes place during a student’s advisory period, Bio-Med’s equivalent to study hall, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Students who take Yearbook or Newspaper in addition to Integrated Math 4 attend these classes Monday and Friday. Students only taking Newspaper or Yearbook attend these classes every day.

Sage Lammlein, a junior taking Integrated Math 4, stated, “It’s kind of difficult, because I don’t really have an advisory. When I do need to work on things outside of class, I have to use my time outside of school, which is already so busy with sports and work.”

Every junior’s first core is STEMinar. STEMinar is utilized for activities that require the entire grade to be present, like presentations from the administration. It is also used to alleviate the workload for the classes that are sharing a core. Depending on the day, students may be split into two groups. One group may work on CCC or history, for example, while the other goes outside for PE.

Avery Miller, a junior taking Newspaper and Integrated Math 4, is not worried about the workload yet.

“It’s very manageable, and we do actually have a good amount of work time in classes. They did tell us in advance to expect some work to do at home,” Miller said.

Lammlein, however, is worried for the future.

“While we haven’t had a lot of work, I have a feeling that once everyone starts assigning projects and stuff, I’m going to have to probably mess up my sleep schedule to finish the work, which has happened before, so it’s not horrible, but I also kind of like to sleep,” she said.

Lammlein has softball practice and games four to five times a week and works three to four times a week. This means that she arrives home “usually around 8:30 to nine o’clock on a good day.”

In addition to taking Integrated Math 4, Levy also takes Newspaper and Spanish III. She is similarly worried about the lack of sleep. Last year, Levy would get home at 6 p.m. and then work on various assignments until 3 a.m.

Students in Yearbook work on assignments for other classes. “There’s not a lot to do at this exact moment, but once things start picking up, especially after picture day, we actually start doing more with the yearbook. We definitely want to add more things than last year, like we want to add [international] trips back, we want to do more captions, and tagging people more,” said Patricia Turner, a junior in Yearbook. The yearbook was previously created by the senior elective course. Last year, the elective course was discontinued and replaced by a club available to all grades. “We were really scrambling at the end to get everything done [last year],” Turner said. This year, the club was turned into the Yearbook Class to increase communication between members and give students dedicated time to work. Photo by Ken Burchett, associate editor.

“That would usually put me sleeping for like an hour to two hours a day, and just working from the time I got home to the time I would go to bed,” she said. “That was mainly for the later portion of the year. I feel like after [December], everything picks up rather quickly, because teachers feel rushed with their curriculum. That makes me nervous for this school year where we have so many extra classes we have to get through.”

Levy continued, “I wish they would have given juniors the option of which one of these classes to take, or even just divided it a little more. I feel like we could have had Newspaper be an English credit, because it is a journalism-focused class… or even having PE when you’re a freshman. I just don’t understand why there’s this huge push and surge of classes.”

Levy believed the Bio-Med Pathways would alleviate this problem.

“It gave us the impression, at least last year when they described them, that the pathways would let you pick which of these classes you would get to take. Instead, it’s just recommending some CCP classes that you can’t take, because we don’t have enough credit hours,” she said.

CCP has a limit to the number of credits a school will pay for each year. This limit is 30 credits, with each high school credit being multiplied by three.

Bio-Med Pathways allow a student to declare a focus in their education, aligning their Senior Apex and electives with whatever pathway they choose.

Miller also had concerns regarding the classes, though hers revolved around college.

“I’ve gotten more serious about looking into what I want to do after [high school], and should I choose to go to college, Bio-Med doesn’t offer any foreign language. I’ve talked to college admissions officers who say that, [with] these extra credits, they’ll look and see that you [excel in other areas]. You haven’t had the foreign language, but they’ll see that you did other things in other areas. It’s really just to try to fill the gap that Bio-Med has in their curriculum,” she said.

Miller continued, “I really like the way Bio-Med works. I really like the CCC class and how it’s preparing you for later…. I like that they do the internships and let you see things. They have a lot of good qualities, but the gap is a little concerning, because some colleges don’t do holistic reviews. Colleges that do holistic reviews will look at all of your Bio-Med things and consider everything. But colleges that don’t do holistic reviews, should you choose to apply to them, they’ll just see that you’re lacking their foreign language requirements, and some of them will just toss out your application. And that’s really concerning, especially since it’s out of my control.”

Collins gave advice for students worried that lacking certain classes would reflect poorly on their academic performance.

“Highlight your strengths! Your transcript will reflect a STEM-based integrated learning, which is unique and desirable to institutions of higher learning,” she said.

Levy concluded, “When you meet with people from other schools, they still look better on college applications. I feel like Bio-Med does have a lot of opportunities, and I feel like other schools’ [benefits] may be more obvious or universal. You have to work to seek out the opportunities [for success at Bio-Med] and be okay with the extra workload.”

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