The News Site of Alliance High School.


The News Site of Alliance High School.


The News Site of Alliance High School.


Time for an Upgrade?


The basic structure of American school systems was made back in 1837, and hasn’t been changed since. That doesn’t sound bad, unless you put it into perspective. It was structured to teach a basic level of literacy, nature of the world, and mathematics for that time. The amount that our society has advanced academically since then has affected the amount learned in the public school system, and most students find it overwhelming. The normal school day is packed, and it’s affecting students in a negative way. 


In 1837 schools taught all main subjects such as math, science, literature, and history. Those subjects have advanced much more since then, yet we’re still expected to be able to learn it, and keep up. Most teenagers have jobs outside of school, and unfortunately there are more things for them to worry about then a high school grade. Times have changed, and we need to establish what is valuable for the advancement of our society. 


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Giving students freedom to choose what they learn would spark more interest, and a larger love for not only school, but for learning as well. Schools often enforce standards on students, taking away the enjoyment of learning things. American schools are built for educating the basics to make workers for factories, not intuitive and expanding on the creativity of its students. Though it has gotten better, schools still kill creativity. Grades are a large part of this, and it’s done by students not exploring certain areas of their creativity because it might sacrifice their grade. For many students, being forced to take classes that they have little chance of using in the future. The most used forms of basic math should be taught earlier in life so they’re more likely to be remembered if needed. Students ask for their schools to provide more commonly used skills in life, and ask for more freedom with what they learn. Our society is in a constant state of improvement, but we won’t progress anywhere if we don’t start. 


Finland has one of the best performing schools in the world, but why? They focus on their students’ well being, needs, and wants. Timo Heikkinen, a principal with 24 years of teaching experience said, “If you only measure the statistics, you miss the human aspect.” Schools push for attendance and state test scores for more state funding and not for the students. Instead of making a change for the better of new generations going into school, they push further into the narrative of mentally draining education. 


Similarly, Denmark has had great success with their education system having ranked in the top 5 in education for the past few years. The educational approach in Denmark avoids class rankings and formal tests, and focuses on problem solving. Their primary education ends around age 16. Any formal education after that would be what we consider college. Only about 23% of danish people didn’t attempt to get a higher education after primary school as of 2022. Danish students are only required by the government to take one test, and that is at the end of their primary schooling to help them determine a pursuit of higher education. 


“I think finals are insane. [Why are we] expected to take a test in December over something we did in August. I barely remember what I did last week, let alone four months ago. School is stressful for no reason. The work itself isn’t exactly hard, it’s that it’s time consuming.” -Anonymous Alliance High School Student


American Public schools focus on tests, to the point of practically burning out their students. This burnout can even be enhanced by test anxiety, and cause more stress for teens and kids. Our focus should be on the education of students, with occasional tests. It’s perfectly reasonable to want to monitor the progress of your students, however the amount that students do is stressful and harmful to their mental state. 


There are ways to bring back the spark of learning, and there are even examples of other countries who have innovated their education system with evidence that it works. America is behind, and we need to make a change for our future if we plan to make this world better. 


Change always has a start, we just need to make it happen rather than sit back and let it continue how it is now. Change can start with what we prioritize in the early stages of education. Having interviewed several teachers, many have agreed that teaching the basic education should be held to a higher standard in elementary schools than what they are. They have also agreed that dividing junior high to be split between both liberal arts and basic education would be beneficial to younger students looking for what they would like to pursue. High school should be more focused on student’s future careers and helping them prepare. 


“I think we should give individuals more patches on where they are interested in and hope to continue in the future. We need to take the best of both worlds of liberal arts and basic education for students.” -Mr. Wells


Teachers stride to provide the best education and opportunities for learning to their students. Many schools can limit this with their abilities though with their use of funding and donations of the community. Students have little say in what they could be taught, or what classes and resources are available to them. The main issue with many schools is lack of representation for the students of their schools. 


While reading out of textbooks can be helpful for certain parts of subjects, many schools or teachers neglect hands-on learning. It has been proven that students catch on to subjects with not just verbal explanations but seeing visually what the teacher is attempting to have them learn. Many students and teachers agree that this isn’t utilized enough in classes where it would be beneficial. 


 “If it can be done, field trips and more hands-on and real life experiences. Refocusing on classes being more hands on and interactive. Expanding on the arts and their programs would be beneficial to students and futures.” -Mrs. Swartz 


Another large issue with American schools is how they handle their funding. They tend to focus on the same places, and neglect others. An example would be the neglect of outdated parts of school. Many bathrooms in not only Alliance High School but in many American schools have an issue with not providing enough privacy for students. This is a prime example of higher ups in the school systems using funds for the same resources over and over again. 


On a national level there are many issues; however, Alliance High School has been slowly, but surely progressing towards bettering school for future students. Principal Chris Stein has been working on the environment of our high school. He has addressed that in the past other principals have focused their attention on grades, state scores and student performance. While he does hope to raise state standards, that is not his main focus. In an interview, his main focus is to help students form relationships, and to help them find an adult that they can look up to and rely on.


Principal Stein has talked about how he plans to raise attendance percentages. Why are attendance rates low in the first place? Students experience many things in school systems, and unfortunately many experiences aren’t positive. There is a concerning amount of disengagement, negative experiences, and aversions present in schools that are the main causes of low attendance rates in school. Each student has their own reason for not attending school, but the ones that recur the most in each of these categories are the following: family responsibilities, poor transportation, community violence (all apart of barriers), struggles with behaviors, struggles with academics, unwelcoming school environments, anxiety (all apart of aversions), lack of enrichment opportunities, having no meaningful relations with adults in the school, and interesting and engaging material in classes (all for disengagement). These are just some of the many experiences that students go through.


Anita James in an interview when asked what she would change in this school teaching wise if possible, and her response was as follows: “We need to do a better job of helping each other understand where others are coming from. [We need to] Teach acceptance, and celebrate those differences more. [We should] Do more for students who come from low income families. And on the mental health side of things, teach coping skills and how to help relieve stress. [We should be] Focusing on being better people to not only ourselves but others.”. 


Administrators are working to better this school for its students. Changes are being made, slowly but surely. A change to something as solid as American education will take time, and it will take many stages of trial and error. There are many issues with the American school system, however many of them could be solved within a matter of years with the right course of action. Administrations need to listen to not only the students, but the teachers as well. Out of anyone, teachers will give the most useful insight of how to help students and make school enjoyable again. Not everything can be fixed at once, but we need to take the first step to fix this endless cycle of stress, burn out and anxiety for both teachers and students. One step out of our comfortable normal, and we could make future students thrive finally with a healthy learning environment. 

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About the Contributor
Samuel Wood
Samuel Wood, Staff Writer
     Born at the Regional West Medical Center in 2008, Samuel is 15. Although he was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska he has always lived in Alliance. His family loved Alliance and believed it was a good environment to raise a kid. His family consists of two brothers and one sister, with him being the youngest. His favorite color is red which coordinates with his favorite teenage mutant ninja turtle. Since 2012, Sam has been obsessed with the turtles loving their personalities and their sibling dynamic.      With a hobby of reading Samuel has developed a love for the book/television series Good Omens; Crowley being his favorite character. He says that “the story is a very interesting take on the bible and brings him comfort”. Currently he is a sophomore with a goal to attend an art school in Denver where the beautiful rocky  mountains are. While keeping up his good grades and being a part of the Spanish club; he still finds time to create art commissions; personal and business. Art is a major part of his life. Another hobby of his is astronomy. He enjoys going to the overpass late at night and looking at the stars. Having a love for stargazing brings him peace.       Samuels best friend’s are Jocelyn Vergil, Emilia Jones, Skylar Reeves, and Melanie Tadlock. Samuel is a very artistic person with a love for creativity and can’t wait to embark on journalism's new creations. He is looking forward to writing about personal interest and community topics. He can’t wait to write for the SPUD this year!

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