Students’ multifaceted experience in school includes academic endeavors, extracurricular activities such as clubs and sports, and social and personal development. Newsday asked students who have appeared in the weekly “Way to Go!” section in 2015 for their “wish list” of how their educational experience could be improved.
Here is a sampling of their responses:
Sanskriti Bimal, senior, Mineola High School
“Exploring the world beyond the traditional idea of pencils, papers and textbooks is the need of the hour today. The digital environment is offering us some of the greatest learning opportunities we have ever had by infusing classrooms with tools such as handheld devices that expand course offerings and overall increase student engagement while building 21st-century skills. New and innovative ways, relying on and leveraging technology, should be looked into to enhance the school experience. Though Mineola High School has done a laudable job in keeping pace with ever-increasing demands to upgrade technological infrastructure, the demands themselves are continuously changing. We should be ready to take advantage of each innovation as it happens. Social media are increasingly being leveraged as a study tool that fosters collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking. With a little thoughtful planning, teachers, coaches, mentors and guidance counselors can better understand and connect with students via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many more such sites. The possibilities social media can bring to the school for educators and students alike are limitless. Truly, learning about the Renaissance from a textbook is one thing, but learning about it through Google Apps, Google Hangouts and other such mediums is another.”
Rhea Manjrekar, junior, Hicksville High School
“I wish Hicksville High School offered more honors classes instead of just Regents and Advanced Placement (AP) for certain courses, like physics. I wish Hicksville offered International Baccalaureate (IB) courses in addition to the already existing AP courses. Students can then challenge themselves in the IB classes and will already have a year of college under their belt when they graduate high school.
“The physical appearance of the school plays an important factor in growth and development of the mind. Hence, the corridors of the school should be decorated [for various holidays] in bright colors to make it more cheerful and visually stimulating so that students are motivated to come to school and it makes for a better learning environment.
“I wish teachers emphasized more on students being well-rounded rather than focusing on just good grades, as colleges are looking for well-rounded students. I would like to see more clubs focusing on community service. Activities within the various clubs should focus not only on in-school activities but activities outside the school within local communities. This provides students with an opportunity to know what is going on within their communities and come up with strategies to help find a solution.”
Irene Kowalski, senior, Sanford H. Calhoun High School, Merrick
“Since the advent of mandatory education, school curriculums have been focused almost exclusively on the left brain. But are core classes like these discouraging the use of creativity and originality in the classroom? While classes that focus predominantly on left-brain skills aid tremendously in most careers, students are in constant need of an outlet. By using creativity during the day, students would be able to momentarily escape from this monochrome, frequently stressful, and anxiety-provoking learning environment. But this does not necessarily mean more art or music classes, or classes with creative writing elements. The way the curriculum is taught to students is dependent on the teacher, and while some teachers may frequently utilize visual aids or tactile activities to enhance the learning experience, many do not. Because teens and young adults in high school are not yet equipped with the patience to sit for long periods of time and pick up class jargon, it is important for teachers to incorporate hands-on activities for students to be creative with, in order to stimulate the right brain and increase understanding of the topic at hand. What’s on my wish list this year? Review games, fun science labs, and artsy projects!”
Emily Blumberg, eighth grade, The Wheatley School, Old Westbury
“So far, I’ve had great experiences at Wheatley. Most of the teachers are really good at helping you remember things and teaching you how to study for tests. It’s been an easier transition from middle school to high school than I expected, and it’s good to have more independence and freedom.
“One thing that some teachers could improve on is explaining things better. Most teachers are great at finding ways to help us remember things and even using visuals, such as acting out a book in English class to help us understand it. Some teachers click through PowerPoint slides and have us copy it down without really getting into depth. Memorizing charts is helpful for certain sections on the test, but it makes it more challenging to be able to put everything together.
“Overall, I’ve really enjoyed my experience at Wheatley so far and I’m excited to see what comes in the next four years. Almost every teacher at school is good at giving us freedom while making sure we get everything done correctly. I’m so glad I get to meet so many new teachers and students this year.”
Grant Goodman, sophomore, North Shore High School, Glen Head
“I love being a student at North Shore High School, and as a sophomore, I feel that I am being well-prepared for my upcoming college/university experience. However, there is one thing that I am very interested in that my school does not have to the extent that it should. That thing is a comprehensive computer science program. Just this year did they get a computer science program in the school, and while that is a major step toward educating students on something that has taken the world by storm, it teaches in an outdated language and, in the International Baccalaureate program, it is an elective, of which you may only take a limited amount. I feel that my school should drastically improve and publicize its computer science program, as the interest among students is stronger than it had ever been before.”
Shannon Gaghan, senior, Farmingdale High School
Referring to the car crash on Conklin Street in which four Farmingdale students were killed as well as one Farmindale graduate, Gaghan wrote: “My wish list for Farmingdale High and the Farmingdale community is that we continue to learn from the tragedy that occurred on May 10, 2014. While this is a time to celebrate our senior year, one should never forget the friends we lost on that very sad day. Farmingdale is an amazing community and we need to offer more programs that raise awareness to underage drinking and driving. Together, we can show why we are DALERSTRONG in and out of the classroom. Therefore, I would like to dedicate my wish list to five Farmingdale students who died on May 10, 2014 in a tragic car crash. You are forever in our hearts and it is a time for change!”