Keystones alter student schedules

By Allison Koerbel
With the state making the transition from PSSAs to Keystone exams, Baldwin administration has faced a new challenge: creating schedules and activities for students who are not taking the tests.
Students had mixed opinions about those activities, with many seniors opting to come to school late, after the testing and activities were done.
In previous years, since PSSAs were geared primarily towards juniors, all other students had a three-hour delay on testing dates. But with Keystones being taken by a mixture of freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, the school board dropped the delay, and administrators had to come up with assemblies and activities for the non-test takers.
Some of the activities included making Christmas cards for soldiers, watching a movie, having a study hall, and hearing presentations by various speakers.
Administrators said that having this available time to program gave them an opportunity to address real-life life topics like drugs and alcohol, or personal finance, that sometimes get pushed to the side.
“Sometimes you run out of time for certain things,” Principal Kevin O’Toole said. “I’m glad some of these issues can finally be brought up”.
Many non-test takers, however, were disappointed that there was no delay as in previous years, and they had mixed opinions about the new activities.
“The activities chosen were absolutely pointless,” senior Ryan Kovatch said. “I would much rather sleep in.”
Senior Jeremy Gruntz said some activities were better than others.
“The movie was a good way to make the time go fast,”Gruntz said. “But making Christmas cards dragged on and could have been replaced by something else.”
Many seniors chose to skip the activities altogether by coming to school late. This resulted in a long line of students waiting in line to check in at the attendance office.
After the first wave of testing, guidance supervisor Stephanie McHugh said that administration would be seeking student feedback to fine-tune new assemblies.
“We want to hold assemblies that students want to know about and would be interesting to them,” she said.
O’Toole, meanwhile, said all students should have come to school on time for the first two testing sessions.
“Testing days are counted as regular school days,” he said. “Those students choosing to come in late are being marked tardy just as you would on a normal school day.”
O’Toole also pointed out that tardy students missed former teacher Paul Hines’ presentation – and a potential job opportunity. Hines brought colleague Jim Slovonik, CEO of BAW Plastics, a local business that sells to retail stores including Home Depot and Sam’s Club. He told the seniors in attendance that he had 40 jobs they could obtain after graduation.