1st Place essay written by Sirinya Phakoom of Castro Valley High School, 12th Grade
Category 2 Why are small class sizes important to the K-3 students and 9th grade English students?
I started high school like most do: excited to finally become one of the “big kids”, but walking into each class not knowing what to expect. Admittedly, I can’t recall much of my first day at high school. However, I clearly remember entering the last period of the day, and being surprised that a good portion of the seats were empty. That year my English class had around twenty students. It was the smallest class I have ever been in. For this reason, among others, I will always remember 7th period Freshman English.
I’ve always been a little quiet in speaking up. But in that class, I participated actively in class discussions. In this smaller classroom environment, I felt more comfortable. I didn’t feel obligated to speak; I simply felt that my voice was being heard better, and that people cared to hear it. Every lesson taught felt like a group effort rather than a simple torrent of information.
Students in smaller class sizes learn better. A lower student-to-teacher ratio makes it easier to teach and there is a lesser chance of distractions. It allows for more one-on-one time between students and teachers. The classroom environment is automatically more welcoming and feels safer with fewer students. This is especially important in years K-3, where children are still acclimating themselves to the idea of attending school. This is also essential in a student's 9th grade year; studies show that most high schoolers decide whether they plan to graduate high school while in their freshman year.
Living in the United States guarantees all children a free education. It should also guarantee children a quality education that will last them a lifetime. Simply having smaller classes would make a huge impact on the way students learn and their successes later in life.
Editor's Note: Students in grades 4 to 12 participated in "School Matters" contest. There were 294 entries submitted.