CCHS adds a day off for students, extends the school year to June 13 

by Karina Coombs

The Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) calendar will see another change this academic year, with a professional day moved to March 12 (giving students the day off) and the school year extended by a day to June 13, barring additional days due to snow.

The Q5 committee and the Concord-Carlisle Teachers' Association (CTA) requested the change at the September 26 meeting of the Regional School Committee (RSC) to accommodate the planning needed for Q5, an abbreviated fifth quarter during which students explore mini courses or take field trips. CCHS students are required to participate in a course or a trip, which will be held during the last two weeks of school in June 2018.

With the last day of school at CCHS originally slated for June 12, the professional day was scheduled for June 13, giving faculty time to finish student assessments and pack up classrooms for the summer break. That time was no longer needed, however, with assessments moved up to the end of May/beginning of June, and believed to be better spent preparing for the new program. The committee voted unanimously to make the change.

Q5 trips okayed, costs a concern

Five trips for Q5 were also approved by the RSC, but not without comments about the associated costs. While the committee was enthusiastic about the offerings, with four out of the five field trips priced between $1,100 and $4,700 per student—the latter a seven-night trip to Norway—some members did express concern that the cost could set a tone for the program they did not anticipate. 

RSC member Mary Storrs was the first to address the associated price tags for trips ranging from the White Mountains of New Hampshire ($400-$500/student) to Central and Eastern Europe ($2,900-$3,400/student), the Quebec Region ($1,100/student), Ecuador ($3,350/student) and Norway, questioning if they were becoming too exclusive to be enjoyed by all students. Storrs asked Superintendent Laurie Hunter—who noted that the trips were a small part of the overall Q5 experience—what kind of financial aid would be available to students, with Dr. Hunter responding that she was unsure, but would look into it.

RSC Chair Dan Conti also voiced concern, asking if the cost would lead to different tracks for Q5, with some students having a “platinum” experience. Wally Johnston agreed and suggested that the cost of trips be looked at going forward. The committee also discussed the potential for fundraising opportunities and making sure students were advised that financial aid might be available. 

The RSC also approved a CCHS geology field trip to Maine for May 12 and 13, 2018. The trip is not part of the Q5 program. ∆