Preparing for the final combined year at PHS

Published 9:36 am Friday, July 26, 2013

At registration, PHS juniors Tyler Leak and Sarah Sansom compare schedules for the coming school year. (Contributed)

At registration, PHS juniors Tyler Leak and Sarah Sansom compare schedules for the coming school year. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

This summer’s Pelham High School registration week coincided with College Board’s advanced placement training at the University of Alabama for the new AP English language class that I’m teaching at PHS this year.

The overlap of these two events created the longest commute I’ve ever had to PHS for two registration nights following full days of training in Tuscaloosa.

While four days of AP training creates the foundation for important curricular changes, PHS registration prepares for a year of transitioning from Pelham High serving both Pelham and Helena to each city offering its own high school when Helena High opens in the fall of 2014.

How is preparation for this transition conceivable? Not knowing all of the answers works — if we know where to find the answers. And yet, at registration, the answer I’ve given most consistently is “We don’t know.”

While we’ve directed questions to counselors and administrators, the truth is that no one has all of the answers about the transition year that we’re embarking on as a school.

Certainly, AP training among some of the state’s brightest teachers and a brilliant instructor has been humbling, reminding me of all I have to learn. But not knowing the answers for students beginning a new year at PHS is sobering on an entirely new level.

Not only do I realize how much I have to learn; I also realize that the knowledge that’s been second nature to me as a veteran PHS teacher is suddenly uncertain as our student body begins the transition to the two high schools we will become in 2014-15.

On the last day of AP training, I’ll be structuring my syllabus for our new AP English language class. Part of me wishes we had that structure and certainty about the coming years for our PHS student body.

However, the change from one high school to two high schools will be a long process. Most importantly, as the final combined graduating class from Pelham High School, the class of 2014 faces the ultimate transition as they prepare for their senior year.