Please excuse us

S to the 5th Attendance Requirements are Unfair

Eliya Moody, Staff Writer

The “Second Semester Senior Stress Solution,” commonly referred to as “S to the 5th,” is a privilege offered to high-achieving seniors in order to reward good attendance, positive behavior and strong grades. Within this program, students who meet certain requirements are able to opt out of up to four semester finals. A student trying to S to the 5th a class must be a current senior and submit all required S to the 5th forms on time. They must also have no missing work, have a minimum grade of A- and be absent a total of two days or less in the class they are trying to S to the 5th.

As one of the only major reward systems for students with high grades, S to the 5th proves to be an accomplishment and a sense of relief for those who have worked hard all semester long. With the high levels of stress that finals can cause, it’s obvious why most students would do anything possible to eliminate that stress; however, the criteria of attendance is out of their favor and extremely unfair. 

“College visits, field trips and COVID absences are the only ‘exempted’ absences for S to the 5th. You can go to a doctor appointment, funeral, or wedding but you can’t miss more than two days in each period,” assistant principal Jennifer Perkins said.

Taking into consideration that even excused absences qualify for the two days, I feel that Center Grove is not only encouraging students to come to school while sick, but also failing to be considerate of important events in students’ lives

“Each semester, a senior can be absent a total of two (2) days in the classes they elect to not take a final exam. All COVID-related absences, that are documented in Skyward attendance, will not count towards these two days. ‘Exempted’ college days as defined by school policy are not included in the two (2) day total.” 2021-2022 CG Student Handbook

Counting excused absences against S to the 5th is unfair because students who miss more than two days due to an illness that prohibits them from coming to school are unable to reap the benefits of the reward. It’s not the students’ fault that they had to miss school while sick, so they should not be punished for it. One senior, who had Mononucleosis at the beginning of the school year, lost the privilege of S to the 5th due to the days she spent at home, even though she worked hard while she was out. She said that even though she kept her grades up and had no missing work, her excused absences took away her privilege of S to the 5th.

Another senior is in a similar situation this semester. He had five absences and therefore won’t be able to S to the 5th. He recalled that he had two dentist appointments, two days of food poisoning and one day of a 103 degree fever. Despite having all A’s and no missing assignments, this student will not be able to S to the 5th. 

We can all agree that it would be impractical for these students to come to school, spread germs and feel miserable throughout the day just so that they can S to the 5th, especially since they could easily complete the work from home, or work hard to make it up at a later date. Students who complete the same work outside of school should be equally worthy of the reward as those who completed their work in school. Therefore, by requiring students to only miss two days or less, Center Grove is neglecting to be considerate of a well-earned reward and also encouraging students to come to school while sick if they want the reward bad enough.

“If students are able to complete their school work and stay on top of things without being at school, I think it’s even more impressive,” senior Ananya Balaji said.

S to the 5th is not only unfair towards students who have excused illnesses and are unable to come to school, but it also fails to be considerate of important events in students’ lives that occur outside of school.

Balaji said that in December, she had to attend a wedding one week before school let out. She had to make sure she didn’t miss a single day of school before then so that she could perfectly balance out the days to count for S to the 5th and not have to take finals. Even so, she had to arrive one day before the wedding.

“The wedding was for my cousin. It was important for me to go because I hadn’t seen my grandparents and extended family members in about three years because of COVID, so I was excited to see all of them again at the wedding, too. It was stressful to make sure I would be able to use S to the 5th because, if not, I would then have to find time to take the finals when I came back. In fact, I had to pack all my folders just in case I needed to study if I actually had to take the finals,” Balaji said.

 All students have lives outside of school, and sometimes there are priorities that override a day of class. For example, last semester, there was a funeral for a family member that I had to attend in Illinois. The funeral was scheduled for the middle of a week–something that couldn’t be adjusted just for me to not miss school. I had to be cautious not to miss too many days, otherwise I would not be able to S to the 5th my finals–something that was very valuable to me. Although I was able to keep up on all my classwork, I felt as though the school wasn’t being respectful toward my family and me, basically saying that it didn’t matter if I attended the funeral or not–all that mattered was whether or not I was in class.

Even though the school’s current procedures when it comes to absences are flawed, they shouldn’t just completely remove the criteria. Instead, the school should adjust the requirements and announce that excused absences do NOT count against S to the 5th. This would allow absences for, as the handbook states, “death in the immediate family and funeral attendance, observance of a bona fide religious holiday, physical or mental incapacitation (documentation from a physician stating the student was either physically or mentally incapable of attending is required), and professional appointments (again, documentation from a physician stating the student was seen/treated in their office).” 

Unexcused absences, such as skipping school without a reasonable excuse, would continue to count against students trying to pursue S to the 5th, and therefore ensure that the privilege is still well earned.

Center Grove, please excuse us for student-handbook-excused absences and allow us to S to the 5th if we meet all of the other requirements.