Maximum occupancy: are too many freshmen filling up the school?

Alice Lee

Increase in freshman population presents new challenges to school


That is what the maximum occupancy of the gym should be. But last Friday at the Welcome Back Rally the freshman class alone nearly passed that number .

The Class of 2012, 692 students and growing, is the largest ever to enter MVHS. According to Registrar Judy Lim, 2012 exceeds the last year's freshman class by upwards of 100 students. But so far, nobody is certain what might have caused the dramatic change.

One theory cites the fluctuating district population; the size of the freshman classes have varied from 583 with the Class of 2011 to 647 with the Class of 2008. Estimates done this summer by city planners projected only 650 students would join MVHS, falling far short of the actual amount.

Newly-created Lawson Middle School also may have added to the population by feeding 200 prospective students into MVHS. Lawson was built to combat the overpopulation at Kennedy, but that overpopulation hasn't been addressed at the high school level. Though the Class of 2011 included Lawson students as well, the first graduating year was smaller than others.

Assistant Principal Marianne Hew claims that the fluctuation is most likely due to the growing number of students living inside the MVHS residency boundaries.

"We can't kick students out. And we can't tell them that they can't come," Hew said. "As you can imagine, if you paid $1.5 million for a home because you want your children to go to school here, you're not going to be very happy if someone says, 'Oh sorry you can't come. We're closed!'"

Hew, along with city planners and district officials, is currently working on solving the overpopulation issue and plans to continue stringent residency checks to verify that all 2,600 students really do belong at MVHS.

Starting from the first week of school, upperclassmen have complained about the number of freshmen walking down the hallways.

"I'm actually really scared they might beat us because there's so many more of them than there are of us," said junior Surabhi Srivastava.

That advantage was subsequently proved wrong by the Class of 2012's fourth-place finish in the Welcome Back Rally.

Freshmen have even been blamed for the stricter schedule change policy that went into effect this year by many students. However, Hew confirms that the policy was developed before the administration learned about this year's student population.

The increase in freshmen has resulted in more teachers being put into freshman classes like Art and Geometry, away from smaller sophomore and junior ones. Fewer available teachers also made it more difficult for upperclassmen to add certain classes during Running of the Bulls. Next year, classes such as World History will be expanded while Geometry will be reduced. But it's not only 2012 that has caused teacher allocations—shifting classes and teachers have always been a part of every new school year.

This time, it's just more obvious.