A change of pace at ROTB

Administration discuss the reason behind the absence of counselors at ROTB


Assistant Principal Michael Martinez sent an email reminding students about Running of the Bulls (ROTB) on Aug. 1. Especially for upperclassmen, most of the information in the message was expected. However, there was one piece of text that took some students by surprise.

The text read: “Schedule changes will not be available until ROTB; if your student needs to request a change in schedule … there will be a station to drop off the form at that time.” For the first time in years, no counselors would be available at ROTB to discuss schedule changes; students would have to simply drop off course correction forms.

The purpose for this change was multifaceted. First and foremost, the staff administration intended to stray away from the stress at ROTB — specifically, schedule change requests. Martinez notes that with counselors present at ROTB, too many conversations ensued between the students and counselors, some lasting “all the way up to 30 minutes.” In order to alleviate this chaos, the administration sought for a “more accessible” solution — the removal of counselors from ROTB.

“We’ll have some time to change your schedules, but we don’t want you to ruin your day by worrying about classes and having to argue with your counselor,” Martinez said. “We thought it might be a nice change to get away from the counselors and shift more towards to a simple drop-off form.”

Junior Aditya Bhardwaj, who has already completed ROTB three times, had mixed emotions about this year. While he understood the need for a more efficient solution, he felt that he’d personally benefit from a face-to-face conversation with his counselor.

Martinez recognizes this viewpoint, but he emphasizes that most schedule changes come from students who only wish to change their teachers. To him, this is an ineffective use of time as he he believes that a different conversation should be held to address this issue.  

AP Secretary Lisa Mueller echoes this belief, explaining that the types of requests she receives only amplify the chaos at ROTB.

“[At ROTB], I had only had three legitimate corrections out of some 2000 students,” Mueller said. “The rest were just people wanting to switch classes and teachers.”

Armed with these facts, Martinez and Mueller note that one of the underlying causes for the chaos at ROTB may in fact be completely unrelated to the event itself. They believe that students often overwhelm themselves by enrolling in challenging courses, only to then discover by the end of summer that they need to rethink their choices.

To address this issue, counselors step in classrooms the year before to give class presentations, usually held in early spring. A class period is devoted to this event, where students learn about their future curriculum choices. Students are encouraged to acknowledge their time-constraints and limitations when making their schedule decisions.

Unfortunately, Martinez says that this system doesn’t appear to be working, as most students tend to lose focus and wander their minds elsewhere during the duration of these presentations.

“If we’re going to go in and waste your time in classrooms with each presentation, we might as well come in and be more productive about it right?” Martinez said. “Because if you’re just tuning us out when we come tell you to not load up your schedules, I’m already having that battle here when you come in with your schedule changes.”

As such, Martinez sees personalized counselor meetings as potential opportunities for students to gauge their limits and make wiser decisions when picking courses. Removing counselors from ROTB does lessen the administration’s stress, but Martinez believes that a more long-term solution is for students to be their own self-advocates. “That’s why we made these changes last year  —  we want you to make your own choices. Course advance forms are gone,” Martinez said.

“These schedules should be about you telling us about what you want, what you need and what you’re prepared for, not about asking for permission.”