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2012 "School Matters" Essay Contest

Spotlight on the high school winner

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.

All Contest Participants will receive a certificate of achievement, as well as one free game at Golden Tee Golfland and other prizes provided by local sponsors.

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