Inquiries started trickling into our Swellesley email box at the start of June about whether the new Evolutions program at Wellesley High School was somehow mucking up course scheduling for seniors not taking part in the program. Terms such as “major SNAFU” and “disastrous” were being used, and questions were raised about juniors and seniors being shut out of the sorts of courses that underclassmen were told in the past upperclassmen had priority for. Complaints referred to students not being able to get into AP and other courses they wanted to take, electives not being available and students being steered toward online courses or large lecture courses. Others said the schedule crunch had left kids under-enrolled.
As it turns out, we weren’t the only ones getting peppered: The School Committee has been receiving queries from parents of WHS students as well. So have guidance counselors.
Evolutions is a new interdisciplinary and collaborative program that will have teachers and students making connections across courses in Art, English, Math, Science and Social Studies. Such programs have been underway at nearby schools in communities such as Brookline and Needham, and the new Wellesley program — which has attracted 83 juniors and seniors for the coming school year — has its share of supporters in the administration, faculty and student body. (The program even has its own Twitter account (@EvolutionsWHS).)
But others are suspicious of whether the introduction of Evolutions has stripped resources from the rest of the school course catalog and whether this is behind students getting shut out of courses they had hoped to take in the new school year. Supporters say Evolutions has not affected other schedules.
WHS Principal Jamie Chisum acknowledged that scheduling questions have arisen but declined official comment until scheduling is concluded. He did say that there have been wait lists for classes as long as he’s been at the school, though. During the recent arena scheduling day, students moved onto and off of lists. One parent I spoke to this week said her child’s scheduling issues were in fact resolved after initial worries that Evolutions had interfered. Apparently, the squeaky wheel approach is working for some.
School Committee Chair Patti Quigley has fielded a steady stream of inquiries and had discussions with Wellesley school superintendent David Lussier, and said as of late last week that there were probably more questions to ask and answer since scheduling is a tricky business. She did say that it wasn’t clear Evolutions was actually at the heart of any scheduling issues, though.
“The good thing about it is that we’re working through issues in the spring, and not on Sept. 2,” she said.