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The Truth Behind Senior Exemption

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Senior exemption for the 2017-2018 school year is almost upon this year’s graduating class. However, as the end of the second semester approaches, an increasing number of students and faculty have begun to question the specifics of Dominion’s exemption policy and to grow more confused about its implementation.

Essentially, exemption of seniors varies from student to student depending on their attendance during the second semester. “First of all, remember that seniors can miss up to two A days and two B days,” Dr. Brewer said.

Although students are allowed to miss four school days over the course of third and fourth quarter, there’s a catch; students who have not used any of their allotted days can technically save them up and cash them in during the four day week after Memorial Day.

“The previous week is the week after Memorial Day. Tuesday is the 30th, Wednesday is the 31st, and Thursday and Friday are June 1st and 2nd. As I see it, students who haven’t missed any A days and any B days probably won’t be attending school those days,” Brewer said.

While seniors can use what’s left of their permitted absences to leave early during the week after Memorial Day, they are not encouraged to do so. “Now I’m not going to encourage that, but they’ve probably saved their days, so they can miss those days and not be here, so probably during that week of Memorial Day we’ll have very poor attendance by the senior class,” Brewer said.

Students will receive further clarification regarding their exemption at the end of the day on Friday, May 26th, in the form of letters given out by the administration.

Even if seniors leave early the week after Memorial Day, they still must come in for some days the following week for various required senior activities. “Therefore, Wednesday June 7th, which is the day we’re going to King’s Dominion, is a really important day because that’s really the last day seniors have to attend school at all. The day before that is the final graduation rehearsal (Tuesday June 6th). So all the seniors are going to need to be here Wednesday the 7th, Tuesday the 6th, and Monday the 5th, which is the senior award ceremony, so all the seniors are going to have to be here for those days,” Dr. Brewer said.

Additionally, the kind of absence that is applied to the total four days seniors can miss has been a source of great confusion, as there are excused absences, unexcused absences, field trips, admitted students days, etc. All absences, excluding field trips and AP exams, count toward the total days each senior is allowed to miss.

“Really, all the days of absences will count towards exemption, except field trips don’t count, because you’re not considered absent on a field trip day, like DECA, like going to a lacrosse game, or like having an early release to go to a tennis match,” Dr. Brewer said.

Regarding admitted student days, these absences are expected to count toward the total days a senior can miss second semester unless that senior provides definitive proof that the admitted student’s day in question was the only possible occasion they could visit their college.

“Very rarely would a student say I absolutely had to go to my accepted student’s day or my orientation, there was no choice, this was the only date. I can only remember one kid who ever said that to me and was able to prove it, so that is a reason theoretically, but usually, that’s not how the college scene works,” Dr. Brewer said.

Regarding senior exemption for culminating assessments, in addition to the two A days and two B days absence policy, there is a separate qualification seniors must meet. Students must have a second semester grade of at least a 70% in a class in order to be exempt for the end of the year assessment in that given class. The distribution of culminating assessments is based on teacher discretion, and therefore varies class by class.

However, seniors who have missed more than two days of the same class, they might have to take a corresponding cumulative assessment, if their teacher wishes to do so. “So you could miss two A days and two B days, but if you miss a half a day and you miss government class a third time, then you have to take the culminating assessment,” Dr. Brewer said.

Although some teachers may actually give non-exempt seniors cumulating assessments, some may have their students complete alternative assignments. For example, Kelly Coleman, an English teacher, proposes that if she had any non-exempt seniors, they would work on poetry prompts and make up the work that they would’ve missed if they hadn’t been in class.

For some other teachers, a culminating assessment for non-exempt students might be necessary. “So, in all levels except AP, there are county-wide common assessments, so my seniors would just take the county-wide common assessment, at least just the multiple choice section,” Kathy McDermott, a French teacher, said.

In order to gain exemption from culminating assessments, teachers recommend senior students to maintain good attendance, keep up with their grades, and turn in assignments on time. “Seniors should make sure that they attend the appropriate amount of classes and make sure that they keep their grade above a C- (70%), which is fairly easy if you’re turning everything in on time,” Coleman said.

Essentially, senior exemption varies for each student of this year’s graduating class, although June 7th, which is the day of the King’s Dominion trip, seems to be the definitive last day seniors officially have to come to school. Of course, seniors will be coming in for one more day, June 11th, in order to attend their Graduation ceremony.

End of Year Senior Timeline

Monday, May 22nd: Reality Store

Thursday, May 25th: Senior Seminar

Tuesday, May 30th: First technically possible day of senior exemption

Monday, June 5th: Senior award ceremony

Tuesday, June 6th: Final graduation rehearsal

Wednesday, June 7th: King’s Dominion Trip

Sunday, June 11th: Graduation at 2:00 pm

 

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The Truth Behind Senior Exemption