Giving truth to Memphis youth
By Raisa Ahmed
The 2013-2014 school year has been one of lots of changes, both good and bad.
Several problems have arisen with the hotly contested merge of Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools. Now a school district with nearly 150,000 students, the new Shelby County Schools has encountered logistical errors.
At the beginning of the school year, all students were issued bus passes. The board required all students to present these lime-green plastic cards to their bus drivers in order to gain access to their bus.
This led to many problems, including some students being left at their bus stops in the morning due to the fact that they had forgotten their bus passes. In addition, several bus stops were relocated to the edge of neighborhoods, instead of the nearest stop sign.
Seeing how this would become a recurring problem, Principal Dr. Leisa Justus made the decision to end Houston High School’s participation in the bus pass program within the first week.
Despite those and other issues, the merger has provided many foreign benefits to Shelby County students. One of these services is the new breakfast plan.
Previously, breakfast cost the same amount as lunch. Now breakfast is completely free. And the effects of the new plan were easy to notice.
At the beginning of the year, free breakfast was unheard of and many students simply were either not aware or just doubtful. Free breakfast? Surely that cannot be. But word quickly spread, and students confirmed it was true.
Now a popular routine, students flock to the cafeteria every morning either to catch up on that breakfast they would otherwise skip in previous years or to grab a delicious bite with friends.
Breakfast is not the only development. Cafeteria food in general has improved significantly. This year, all food is pre-packaged and shipped to school every morning. This guarantees freshness and prevents potential safety violations from occurring.
“It tastes so good,” said Houston senior Lachanda Reid. “I actually make the trip to breakfast because it’s delicious. I never pack my lunch, so the new food has been very convenient for me.”
With the proof of tasty cafeteria food, bagged lunches may become a thing of the past.
Another new opportunity now offered to county students is online courses. Students may take classes online in their own pace with the Memphis Virtual School, which was once exclusive to city students.
The virtual school has proven vital to some Houston High students, especially the seniors who rely on online classes to meet the graduation requirement of one credit of government and one credit of economics.
Houston senior Don Shin said, “I have to take government and economics online. Orchestra conflicts with those classes, so I can’t take them at school.”
Due to scheduling conflicts and overcrowding of core classes, many Houston seniors like Shin have enrolled in AP government and AP macroeconomics online. The Memphis Virtual School is now a necessity to them.
Not only has the board agreed to open up the new virtual school to county students, but they have also eliminated the cost of sending transcripts to colleges.
Once upon a time, students would pay $5 for every transcript sent. Not anymore. The fact that transcripts are now free to send have encouraged students to apply for more colleges and scholarships.
“It’s nice not having to worry about sending transcripts. Yeah, it used to be only $5 per college, but what if I wanted to apply to 10 different scholarship programs? That would have been $50 right there,” said Houston senior Haley Nichols.
The burden of paying for official test score reports still remains, but with the cost of transcripts officially gone, seniors have one less thing to worry about this year.
With school boards for suburbs being elected now, merger-related problems may be short-lived.