Academic Probation: HarmfulWednesday, April 15, 2009 By Liz Johnson (Copy Editor)
For those with less than a 2.0 grade point average, Northwest’s new academic probation policy bans everything that doesn’t happen between 7:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m., equating the choral department’s quarterly concerts with things like the spring musical. The former is unfairly considered extracurricular, when really, it is chorus teacher Peppie Calvar’s only way to hold his students accountable for the quarter of work they put in. Since chorus is a performance-based class, there is no way to test the students other than to have them perform. They spend the quarter working on advanced pieces of music through which they learn music theory, professionalism, and musicianship—skills that are impossible to take a written test on. Because they are suffering in other subjects, students on academic probation are barred from participating in the classes that they came to Northwest for. When it comes time for the quarterly exam—the chorus concert—those who are on academic probation have to write a paper, while those who aren’t have to do their best to make up for the missing voices. The difference between the chorus concert and the spring musical is that one is required for a class, and one is optional, completely separate from classes. Concerts are not something that Calvar hosts for fun. They are mandatory events that let us showcase what we have learned and how much we have improved. Chorus is a graded course and therefore just as important as a math or history class. This is an arts school, where we are judged not only for our test scores, but also for the quality of the art we produce. If we are not allowed to produce our art, then why are we here? It is the same as banning a student from taking their math test because they are failing dance. Performance is a part of the standard course of study for chorus, and therefore not extracurricular. While I certainly do not condone making bad grades, I don’t agree that the entire choral department should be penalized. Optional, time-consuming after-school activities should be taken away from those with bad grades, but graded activities that take maybe five hours total once a quarter should not.