Counselor notes positives of scheduling process

Watko says 90% of students followed initial instructions


Megaphone file photo

Director of counseling Mrs. Gretchen Watko ’00 works in her office in Kelly Hall.

Jake Langdon, Videographer/Reporter

With the continuing restrictions on large gatherings of students due to Covid-19 protocols, the counseling department has had to adapt their approach to the yearly student scheduling process.

Director of counseling Mrs. Gretchen Watko ‘00 and the counseling staff were quick to make changes and to offer a new scheduling process. 

Watko said, “In the past the counselors would have split up during a flex period and we would’ve had each grade level in different areas. The counselor would have been able to provide a presentation for each grade level giving an overview of graduation requirements and what a typical schedule would look like for the upcoming school year for that grade level.” 

Watko mentioned the traditional path from that point, saying, “We would give (students) handouts and give them instructions on how to start filling out course requests on PowerSchool and they could start doing it that day. And then they would have a whole week to fill that out.”

Instead of meeting in large groups, the counseling department utilized an activity period for a presentation for all freshmen, sophomores and juniors about the ins and outs of scheduling as well as a new scheduling information page on the school website.

Watko said, “(Students) were hearing it, seeing it and doing it: Hearing it in the presentation, seeing it on the website and then using their handouts to map out their course requests for the upcoming school year while also taking into account the credits they have already earned and the credits they have remaining.”

The counseling department allowed students to continue to hear it, see it and do it for a week before opening the portal on Jan. 28 for them to register for next year’s classes.

Watko said she believed this system was effective. She said, “It proved to be a pretty big success because 90% of students logged into PowerSchool and did something. And we had 67% of students who logged into PowerSchool and entered 16 or more course requests. I don’t think we’ve ever had that many students fill out 16 course requests before.”

Along with the new format to register for classes, there are also many more course offerings for next year, including new religion electives. But with this added freedom, there is also slightly less flexibility in the schedule. Watko said, “In the past, we had Religion 9, 10, 11 and 12 pretty much every period and we had one or two sections every period. There will probably be less flexibility in students’ schedules due to (the religion electives.)”

She added, “This is why there is that unknown about drop/add. There’s a ton of work that goes on behind the scenes when building the master schedule that people don’t understand. And when you have drop/add, it throws everything off.”

Watko concluded, saying, “Student and teacher feedback is always important to me, so I definitely welcome students who have strong feelings one way or another about the process this year.”