By SABRINA HUANG
A lottery system was implemented for incoming freshmen in the French Language and Cultural Program as a result of over-enrollment and a limited number of sections available. About 15 students were cut off and were offered to take another language of their choice.
Currently Ms. Michelle Raitt (World Languages Dept.) is the only teacher who teaches French at UHS after Mrs. Liane Sponberg left last year. The french program has been reduced to four classes: one French 1 class, two French 2 classes, and one French 3 class.
“The number of sections offered depend on the number of students,” Ms. Genee Hansen (World Languages Dept.) said. “[It’s similar to an] ebb and flow system in the sense of the number of sections offered each year in the French program [can change].”
In other words, the number of French sections available at UHS changes each year depending on the number of new students who enroll in French 1, and the number of remaining students in French 2, French 3 and French 4.
“It’s a very fluid system,” Hansen said. “[The French program tries to fit] the supply and demand [of incoming and current students]. [This year] the demand was not enough to have three French 1 sections.”
Another French teacher will likely be hired if enrollment for classes is high enough next year. Even so, hiring a new teacher in itself is not a simple task.
“You’re always taking a risk when you’re bringing somebody in new,” Dr. Kevin Astor (Admin.) said. Because Sponberg resigned after the course selection was completed, the administration was reluctant to go through the challenges brought by hiring another French teacher.
The process of picking certain students for French 1 was not an easy one for administration, who had to consider continuing students in addition to incoming freshmen.
“We first prioritized to ensure that our continuing students, meaning kids who had already completed French and were going on to French 2 and French 3, had space… because we didn’t want them to have started a program and then all of a sudden not be able to continue the second or third year,” Astor said. “So that was the first priority. In order to do that we ended up with less seats available for French 1 than we had students requested.”
Mr. Mike Georgino, former Assistant Principal who was responsible for the master schedule, randomly selected students for enrollment.
“[This] is what we often do because it gets challenging to come up with [certain] criteria to select students…for a class like French 1 [because it’s not] based on any kind of merit,” Astor said. “So [Mr. Georgino] went through and just randomly selected [students] and grabbed [the number of students we had to reduce by].”
The remaining students were then given to their respective counselors to find out what other courses they could choose in replacement of French.
According to Hansen, the lottery system is implemented “periodically [when there is] over-enrollment and a limited number of sections [offered]” for any course. In other words, it’s not just the French program for which a lottery system had to be instituted.
“We were all disappointed that we even had to deal with it,” Astor said. “I understand if [students are] frustrated. I would say I understand if they felt that it was unfair in the sense that they didn’t do anything wrong, that they did everything they were asked to do.”
Students have responded in various ways over the system.
“I understand why [the lottery system] is necessary because currently we have only one French teacher, [but] it does mean that participation in French Club will be less than what it might have been last year,” French Club President Raina Zhao (Jr.) said. “I was counting on the new influx of a bunch of new freshmen in French 1 to clearly bolster our participation rates.”
Other students believe that the lottery system was a fair process even though the French program should be made more available.
“It is kind of unfair that only some students get to go in, especially [since] French is already a language that few students take here,” Monica Tang (So.) said. “[However, the lottery system isn’t] much of a problem.”
Ultimately, Astor hopes students understand the administration’s decision to implement the lottery system.
“I hope [students] understand why this thing happened that none of us wanted to happen,” Astor said. “I want them to understand why we had to do it and then what process we went through to be as fair as we could in an unfair situation.
“My hope is that [these students] are either finding a new passion with a different language or still have an opportunity at some point whether it’s here or college to study French.”