By MELANIE PEREZ, XIOMARA SANCHEZ and JULIANNA TALAVERA
JULIETA ROBLES, PAIGE SAILOR and LEON JUAREZ contributed to this article
Orangewood High School students received big news concerning graduation credit requirements today.
An afternoon assembly notified seniors of the Redlands School Board’s passage of Emergency Resolution No. 25, which modifies the requirements for high school graduation. With this resolution, the Redlands Unified School District credit requirement for the 2023 and 2024 graduating classes changed from 225 to 200 by reducing 25 elective credits.
Seniors at Orangewood were called to an assembly today by Principal Carli Norris for the surprise announcement.
“They just called all the seniors up through the speakers and that was pretty much it,” says Orangewood senior Natalie Lopez.
Orangewood senior Kamren Shackles said that walking into the assembly, “it was like nothing really changed. Like you were walking into lunch or something.”
Orangewood High School senior Kamren Shackles learned that he would be graduating much sooner than expected due to Redlands School Board Resolution No. 25 reducing elective graduation credit requirements. “School really goes by fast when you’re at the end,” says Shackles. (Photo courtesy of Natalie Lopez)
At the assembly it was revealed that this resolution had passed and graduation requirements were dropped by 25 elective credits.
The resolution states, “This flexibility will reduce all RUSD High School Graduation Credits from the required 225 Credits to a required 200 credits, equating to a reduction of twenty-five (25) elective credits…”
Lopez says, “Everyone processed it differently, but like everyone was happy and shocked, cause everyone had different credits. And a lot of people graduated at that time.”
According to the resolution, the decision was made “due to the statewide emergency concerning the coronavirus (COVID-19).”
This resolution applies district-wide. High schools affected are Citrus Valley High School, Redlands High School, Redlands East Valley High School, Orangewood High School and eAcademy.
It additionally modifies graduation requirements for the Adult Education Program to 180, while it was previously 200.
The resolution states that “the Modified Graduation Course Requirements for the Adult Education program will be reduced from the required 200 credits to a required 180 credits, equating to a reduction of twenty (20) elective credits for the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school years.”
At an Orangewood High School assembly on Feb. 23, 2023, seniors received transcripts showing the change in their graduation credit requirements before and after Emergency Resolution No. 25. The graduation credit requirement changes to 200 from 225 for high school students in the Redlands Unified School District for the classes of 2023 and 2024, current juniors and seniors. (Photos courtesy of Kamren Shackles)
With this resolution, students at Orangewood have been given an advantage. Many seniors at Orangewood have been put ahead on their graduation status and others will now be able to graduate within the 2022-23 school year. Select students are able to graduate earlier than expected or on time.
Some students were notified today that they would be graduating this grading block which ends on March 10.
Lopez, who just this morning was on track to graduate in June learned that she will be graduating this block.
“I’m sad because I’m leaving friends, but I’m ready to get out of here. It’s still exciting,” says Lopez.
Although Shackles was not expecting the announcement, he does not feel that it changes his plans or feel unprepared.
“It’s more like you’re being brought up to the plate earlier than you expected,” says Shackles, “So you gotta just think of your plan and solidify it more than you did before.”
This resolution also has impacts for juniors at Orangewood who want to go back to their comprehensive high schools.
For Orangewood students to return to their home schools at the beginning of their senior year, they have to have 60 or less credits left to complete. For some Orangewood juniors, this puts them on track to do that.
The current resolution is not one-size-fits-all, however, and may not help all students who were struggling.
The resolution specifies that “the prescribed course of study may not accommodate the needs of some students.”
Shackles says that at the assembly some students received transcripts stating that they would need to go to adult school.
“You’re kindof, I guess, not satisfied, but relieved,” says Shackles, “It’s like, ‘Okay, well at least I know. It’s not like in limbo if I’m going to graduate or if I’m not.’ So I think the assembly was definitely a good push for people to know where they’re going now.”
For Orangewood seniors starting their next steps sooner than expected, there are a range of emotions.
Shackles says, “For me, I know I would have liked it [comprehensive high school] more, but this is for the better. So I’m definitely not mad about where I’m at or where I’ve been taken to. And I hope it continues in a good way. So, no regrets.”
For Lopez, it feels like a flashback.
“I just remember being in middle school and elementary school and now I’m graduating this block,” says Lopez. “I remember being at REV with like all my friends, and then like out of nowhere I’m being sent to Orangewood and now I’m graduating early.”
The resolution states that it “shall become effective immediately upon its adoption and shall remain in effect until the end of the 2023-24 school year.”
“You gotta do life now though,” says Shackles. “Someone was like, ‘you ready to get out there and like do actual things?’ It’s like, no. But I’ll try. I’ll for sure try.”