11 Extra Copies

Jason McKnight, the Latin teacher at Community High School, called out the names of ten students. These ten people, out of forty others, were in McKnight’s first block Latin One class. Once McKnight called their names, they weren’t allowed to be in Latin One anymore.

 “There were lots of opportunities to drop out of this class. I said, [on the first day] if you’re a student who really needs hands on attention this might not be the best situation for you. You may want to try and take this class later.” To McKnight’s surprise, only a handful of students left after the first day.

 McKnight was left with forty-two students, all wanting and choosing to be in Latin One. “No matter what, I’m going to do my job, and that is to teach.” McKnight said regarding the class size. The overall disposition of Latin One was very laid back. McKnight and the students understood how big the class was and all seemed content with the fact. “I never really had a problem with the class [as a whole], everyone paid really close attention and I never had to talk to the class about behavior.” McKnight recalls.

 Quentin Faro, a former member of Latin One, said, “I didn’t see a problem with the class size. It didn’t make a difference.”

Renee Hanna, a current member of Latin One, agrees with Faro, “It was small enough for Jason to handle and everyone could have had individual attention [if needed] and everyone got along.”

 After three weeks, Jen Hein and John Boshoven, the dean and counselor of Community High School, had to make the hard decision of who had to leave the large class. Hein had to finalize this tough decision, “We picked the kids that didn’t need the credit, kids that already were taking a language or kids that had already met the requirement of taking a language, kids that were taking it just for the fun of it.”

Boshoven agreed with Hein, “I love the idea of learning [going to school] for the fun of it.” He later added, “We just don’t have the resources to support it.”

 Some students left McKnight’s classroom in tears. “The last thing we want to do is make people cry. I hate making people cry. This is not a school where we do things to kids, we do them with kids. However, the economics being and the lack of support downtown…we have to.” Boshoven said. “The idea is [that] can we trim the classes down to make it a more pleasant learning environment for students and teachers.”

 One by one students found other classes. Faro, a senior, has limited class selections. “It sucks because there aren’t any classes for me to take, I have to make my own class as a CR [Community Resource].” And some students, who could take other classes, gave up their spot for another student because of how visibly upset they were.

“Kids gave up spots for others to stay, that was nice but it shouldn’t have been necessary.” Hanna said. “I don’t think it should have reached the point of pulling kids out, they shouldn’t have allowed it in the first place.”

 The underlying question remains: If the students and teacher are okay with the number, then who cares?

 “The board of administration care[s], the board of education, the superintendents care, some parents care about the district having 42 kids in a class.” Hein said. “I’m fully committed to the teachers and I think they can handle larger class sizes.”

 Latin One, now 31 students, is preparing for a unit test. Latin One would be taking this test regardless of how many students had to take it. The only difference would be eleven more copies of the test. “I’m going to teach no matter what,” McKnight said. “I’m really shocked with the number of kids that wanted to take Latin and I hope they will reconsider in the future.”