Seniors To Graduate Week Early


Courtesy of KatyISD

Donovan Nichols, News Editor

KatyISD seniors will finish school one week earlier than their classmates starting this spring for the class of 2020. Graduation ceremonies will take place Saturday through Friday preceding Memorial Day weekend, rather than on the holiday weekend. The schedule change was made in anticipation of new highschools and overall growth in the district.

“Paetow High School will have a graduating class for the first time. Next fall, High School 9 will open, and in a few years that’ll be another graduating class, and then the same thing a few years later with High School 10,” Principal James Cross said. “At a certain point we just wouldn’t have been able to fit all these graduations in over Memorial Day weekend, so something had to give.”

Seniors this upcoming spring will finish school on Friday, May 15, whereas freshmen, sophomores, and juniors will finish school Thursday, May 21. The change was specifically enabled due to a change in how the Texas Education Agency (TEA) credits schools for attendance.

“The state went from counting the number of days each student attends to the number of minutes for the attendance requirement, and technically the minute we send students to their first period class, those minutes start being counted as part of the instructional day,” Cross said. “Counting those minutes means the seniors meet the state requirement for minutes by May 15.”

Courtesy of College Board

The shift to counting minutes and the earlier release date means that the seniors will only meet the attendance requirement if they attend through the last week of school, meaning that even if seniors exempt their finals, they will still have to come to school.

“It should be a relaxing week,” Cross said. “While seniors do still have to come during their exams, if they are exempting they should be able to relax with friends. We’ll also have senior chillout and our graduation rehearsal that week.”

The schedule shift also means that finals week for seniors will coincide with week two of AP Exams. For any seniors taking AP tests that week who will also not meet the exemption requirements to exempt all their semester finals, the schedules may conflict. The school plans to accommodate the AP tests, and is looking at possibly taking the semester final at a different time or different guidelines for exempting.

“I like the idea of getting out a week early a lot,” senior Tejas George said. “Even if I exempt all my finals though, I’ll still have AP tests that week, so I still have all those to get through. On the bright side, when I’m in classes that week I can just sleep or study for AP exams and not worry about finals or schoolwork.”

Cross says he expects the district to keep the change in years to come, as the district will only be growing larger and larger.

“Maybe if TEA changed back to the days requirement instead of the minutes requirement we would change back,” Cross said. “What we can’t afford to do, as a district, is have seniors not come to school for an entire week and fall short of the requirement. That would be hundreds of thousands of dollars lost across the district that we couldn’t recoup. But I think it will definitely stick around; otherwise it would just be putting off the inevitable.”