Making sure students attend the last day of school can be tough for county school officials especially as Putnam County students head back to school for only one or two days after the labor day weekend. Greencastle, North and South Putnam schools have students attending the Tuesday after Memorial Day, while Cloverdale schools will go both Tuesday and Wednesday.
It appears the best guarantee is to have final exams on the last day. All four county schools have at least a few finals scheduled.
Cloverdale Principal Sonny Stoltz knows his students will be in attendance as they have finals on both Tuesday and Wednesday.
"Since missing exams would cause a student to lose 20 percent of their semester grade, most will show up for class," states Stoltz.
North and South Putnam schools also have finals scheduled that day and do not anticipate any issues with attendance because students missing finals will also receive a percentage off their grade.
Greencastle Middle School does not have finals, however they hold their awards ceremony that day and traditionally do not release any yearbooks to students for pick up until the last day of school. According to Principal Shawn Gobert these are the usual last day of school activities.
"I would be surprised if we have a really bad attendance day. Most middle schoolers like to hang out with their friends and want to spend the last day at school with other kids," he remarks. The middle school has not had any problems in the past with last day school attendance.
Fewer students will be in school at Greencastle High School. A policy was instituted this year which allows students who have two or less absences and less than one tardy to opt out of final exams. Many of the students who qualify for this are taking a job shadowing day, performing community service or visiting a college, and will not be at school on the last day of the year. Those who are taking finals could have up to three exams on Tuesday.
The Opt Out program was put in place at Greencastle High School this year by Principal Jim Church. "This program enables kids to make choices but they must do certain things," Church said. "Those students who are opting out on the last day of school had to sign a form stating what they would be doing that day and have parental permission," he added.
Students at GHS who are not eligible for the Opt Out program and who are absent from final exams will either fail the course or lose 20 percent of their grade. The program is a pilot project this year and information about it has not yet been added to the school's student handbook.
Normal semester grades are determined on a 40/40/20 standard with final exam grades counting as 20 percent. Student grades for those who can opt out are split on a 50/50 basis and do not include a final exam grade. School officials did not have any numbers indicating how many students would be taking part in the opt out program.
Church, who was principal at Northview High School in Brazil last year implemented a similar program there. "Students at Northview who were not eligible to opt out of finals, and who did not take the finals, failed the course," he added.
Debra Myers, attendance secretary at Northview High School, told the BannerGraphic that they are discontinuing the Opt Out program at Northview next year. "Attendance rates are not any better this year," Myers said. "They started out better at the beginning of the school year but have dropped off. " She said that the program required a lot of work monitoring student absence by each individual class.
The BannerGraphic contacted the Indiana Department of Education for information from other schools using an "Opt Out" program. But, Gaylon Nettles, director of the Office of Student Services and State Attendance Officer, was out of the office until May 29. Other employees in that office declined to comment.
Meanwhile, some students at GHS are happy about the program as it allows them to not only miss the last day of school but to choose to take final exams or not. If they do take exams and receive a low mark, it does not count against their grade.
GHS students taking advantage of the no exam policy include sophomores Griffin Moore, Ty Fauvergue and freshman David Cath.
"I will be job shadowing my father who works in the IT Department at DePauw University," Moore said. Fauvergue will shadow his mother who is a teacher at Tzouanakis and Cath says he will also be job shadowing his parents that day.
Undergrad students at Northview who are eligible for their opt out program will, for the last time, spend their final day away from school job shadowing and visiting colleges.
"I have mixed feelings about discontinuing the program," Northview's Myers concluded. "Our kids will miss it."