FARMINGTON—When the doors of the new Farmington High School open next year – it will be with a senior class.
“To my knowledge we’ve never started a new school with seniors in Davis County,” said Dr. Dan Linford, high school director for the Davis School District. “It can be complicated. It’s really predictable to have just a junior class. It’s difficult to require a senior to come after spending two years at another school, but it’s tough to predict a senior class when it’s optional.”
However, the decision to start with a senior class is based on student choice. “One of the central tenets of the educational philosophy of the new school is student choice,” he said. “We feel that as we build programs around student choice and opportunity it is hard to ignore the implications for allowing seniors the option of starting at Farmington High.”
Linford presented the proposal at last week’s board of education meeting and it was approved.
“I whole heartedly agree with having seniors,” said board member Brigit Gerrard.
“Having the option is the best part,” said student board member Alex Andersen. “If someone told me I had to leave I would not be happy.”
A preliminary boundary proposal has been released but won’t be finalized until Dec. 5. Linford said students at the five high schools – six with Farmington High – within the boundary study will be allowed to choose whether to stay and finish their senior year at their current high school or go to the high school assigned by the new boundaries.
“Seniors will have the opportunity to meet with their current counselor to say they want to stay,” he said. “Otherwise, the district will automatically assume they are attending their boundary school. We would need to have a solid ‘declaration date’ so that staffing needs can be finalized and met in time to train staff and effectively open the school.”
Linford said Farmington High’s digital curriculum/blended model will lend itself well to providing more course options to incoming seniors. “We anticipate that every course will have a digital component so parents and students will have access 24/7,” he said. “There will be an interactive video conferencing lab so students can watch classes on screen and interact. It will be very smooth and allow a lot of flexibility to run a small class.”
After consulting with other district administrators that started with seniors, Linford said there are several compelling reasons to do it at Farmington. “Seniors are critical for leadership,” he said. “They’ve been there and done that. They are a stabilizing factor in academics, performing groups and sports teams. It gives students who have been in overcrowded schools more opportunities.”
A senior class allows for a graduation ceremony too, he said. “That’s our goal. I love the idea of a graduation ceremony at the end of the year. Having seniors will also help with CE and AP funding.”
Of course there are also challenges. “We’ll have to overcome staffing issues,” said Linford. “We will have to be agile because we won’t have the same ability as other schools. Davis can predict X amount in BC Calculus. They have good numbers on what kind of courses students will take, but we think it’s doable.”
In addition to academics, there’s concern over sports. “It’s impossible to avoid problems with athletics,” said Linford. “Depending on the size of a team losing one athlete can make a huge difference. We have confidence in our athletic directors in that. Schools have a competitive spirit – it can be emotional at times. I hope any concerns will be relegated to this first year. We usually celebrate a majority of seniors on the football field because the team is usually made up of underclassman.”