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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

WJ Students Not Shy About Skipping Class

More than half of WJ students said they have skipped a class, with seniors responsible for the highest percentage of unexcused absences of any grade, according to a survey of 190 students conducted by The Pitch Online.

Fifty-four percent of all students said they skipped, while 67 percent of seniors admitted to ditching a class. Twenty-nine percent of the students said they didn’t show up at least once a month, and the most common excuse was they needed a break.

In a snapshot of a Wednesday’s absences in March, students skipped first and last period most. Security team leader Howard Beaubien said that interacting with students who skip unintentionally comes with the job.

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“We don’t send people out to catch skippers, but in the course of our other duties, we often run into them,” said Beaubien.

When he catches a skipper, Beaubien checks the student’s attendance record for the past month, and if he finds a pattern he will file a report to the administration. Beaubien also tries to determine why a student is walking the halls rather than sitting in class.

“There are kids who skip just to skip, but there are kids that have an issue, whether it’s legitimate or not — they don’t like the teacher or they don’t like the class — and that’s for the administrator and maybe even a counselor to get involved,” said Beaubien.

Sometimes Beaubien won’t come down hard on first-time offenders; he might just give a warning and tell the student to get a pass next time.

After a student has one or two unexcused absences, a teacher is supposed to hand out a warning, according to the county’s rules in A Student’s Guide to Rights and Responsibilities. On the third unexcused absence, the principal will send home a letter requesting a parent conference.A fifth unexcused absence results a student losing class credit for the semester. WJ sometimes handles incidents of skipping on a case by case basis and punishments may be a little more lenient than the policy outlined by the county.

Teachers are the first line of defense because they keep attendance records.

“Oftentimes, it’s teachers that will turn students in for skipping,” said Beaubien.

He added that teachers will certainly know if a student is absent repeatedly but he can only catch skippers if he happens to see them in the hall.

A look at a Friday’s absences in March showed that students skipped fifth period the most, with 60 kids missing class. The two snapshots of absences on a Wednesday and a  Friday do not provide a statistical conclusion on the skipping phenomenon but do give a peek at the trends. According to The Pitch Online’s survey, 20 percent of students skip English class the most.

Science teacher Patricia Tierney describes how she deals with skipping in her classes. Video filmed by Miklos Szebeni.

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About the Contributor
Katie Levingston
Katie Levingston, Online Editor in Chief
Although she seems quiet on the outside, 2010-2011 Online Editor-in-Chief Katie Levingston is bursting with energy on the inside. A former young Parisian in her second year on staff, Katie models her life after certain television shows, namely Gilmore Girls and Friends. She is unnaturally familiar with said sitcoms; she longs for the day when she can eat anything she wants and spend all her time at Central Perk in the Village. Nothing happens to her in real life, it all happens in Stars Hollow or in Monica’s apartment… okay? When she’s not practicing her speed-talking, she plays a mean clarinet in many different musical groups and spends inordinate amounts of time editing videos for the website. Among her most pressing decisions in life are what to order at a restaurant and which scarf to wear that day. She is insanely proud of her thick curly hair when it cooperates. She’s super excited to be a part of the up-and-coming wjpitch.com. Her doppelganger Anne Hathaway says, "Hi!"
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