Four classes, one room

Classes with students of varying grade levels offer inter-grade bonding

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Four classes, one room

Stuti Upadhyay and Brian Xu

When freshmen first enter MVHS, a change they must adapt to is the size of the school. Most middle schools in the area contain no more than 600 students, whereas MVHS’ total enrollment for the 2018-19 school year is 2,270 students.

This drastic increase in population leads to changes in student life, one of which is the diversity in classes. Although middle school classes are usually restricted to students of the same grade level, several high school classes contain a range of students from ninth to 12th grade.

For sophomore Diya Menon, this diversity in grades is a much better option than traditional single-grade classes because it provides a different perspective for students.

“I love talking to the seniors, they’re really fun […] and they give a lot of advice about different things,” Menon said. “For example, about courses to take for the next year, or how to get through a certain class that they might have already taken and insight on high school life itself.”

For Menon, the advice she receives from older students in her classes has come in the form of tips for studying, recommendations about how to approach certain teachers and help on class material itself.

Senior Rhea Karandikar has transitioned from being on the receiving end of student advice to an upperclassmen who shares advice. She agrees with Menon about the value of older students’ perspectives and experiences. Personally, she also enjoys having underclassmen in her classes.

“It’s kind of funny to see all the underclassmen so naive about FUHSD and how much the admin cares about them,” Karandikar said. “I think the older kids are a little more jaded. Other than that, it’s also fun to look at their classes, tell them general opinions on teachers. It’s just fun to watch them grow.”

Chinese teacher I-Chu Chang agrees that there are obvious behavioral differences between students of various ages, citing the differences in energy level and maturity between her freshmen and seniors as an example.

“Sometimes, compared to seniors, freshmen are not as mature,” Chang said. “Coming from middle school, especially in the first month, in high school a lot of them are super hyper. So when teaching a class with a lot of freshmen, I find that sometimes it is hard to manage class.”

Chang explains that the differences in grades have mostly worked to her benefit in Chinese, but stresses that the effect of having different grade levels in each class varies greatly from subject to subject. She concedes that mixing several grades does come with drawbacks.

“The challenge, I think, is that somehow, freshmen are no longer freshmen,” Chang said. “They are not as free or bubbly compared to other freshmen-only classes.”

As an upperclassmen, Karandikar agrees that incorporating all grades is not always a great idea, especially because the difference in age and experience can cause major behavioral differences.

“Sometimes, you sit with 13-year-olds and you realize, ‘Was I really like this? Was this really how I acted as a freshman?’” Karandikar said. “Because sometimes they’re just immature or they just don’t get things yet and you want to correct them but you kind of have to let them figure it out for themselves. So it’s just annoying ot have to put up with underclassmen who are immature. But we were all like that and eventually they’ll mature too.”

Although Menon understands this perspective, she strongly supports having a mix of different grades in classes. Menon believes that having students from different grades, specifically upperclassmen, creates a support system in class. She explains that whenever someone understands a certain topic, whether they be a freshman or senior, everyone is willing to help each other out.

“I don’t really see the benefit from restricting [classes] based on grade,” Menon said. “I think it should be based on what you want to learn and what level you’re comfortable learning at … You’re all forced to take these core classes but if there’s something else that you’re interested in, or different people that you might want to work with, I think that that should be an option.”

Through her four years in high school, Karandikar has come to appreciate the way different grades are incorporated, or not incorporated, at MVHS. Despite the occasional drawbacks of working with immature peers or having multiple tests on the same day, Karandikar enjoys classes with a large range of grade levels.

“For the most part, the way that classes work here is pretty good because it’s good to have people of many different grades and I think having people like that has taught me a lot about the other grades,” Karandikar said. “Having classes like that reduces inter-grade hate and helps us understand each other better.”