Many juniors arrive at Patricia Fels’s English class from 1:56-2 p.m. on April 24. Although class technically begins at 1:55, none were marked tardy. (Photos by Cissy Shi)

The bell is really just a guideline

The faint ring of the middle-school bell is heard throughout the high school. It is 8:20, the start of first period, when all students should be in class.

In reality, it is only after hearing this bell that some students start walking out of the library. Others stay to print out that last-minute English homework.

A recent Octagon poll showed that 77 percent of students say they are late to first period at least once a week.

However, according to Shara Reeves, assistant to the head of high school, over the course of three days only 11 students were marked “late unexcused” to first period by the teachers.

The decision of when to mark a student late is left up to individual teachers. If the teacher decides the student is late to first period, the student must sign in at the high-school office. If the student has a note from a parent, then the tardy is excused.

The strictness of teachers when it comes to determining tardiness, however, varies quite a bit.

English teacher Jane Bauman has a strict policy on students arriving late to first period. If a student comes in after 8:20, in addition to being marked late in the computer system, that student will lose class participation points.

“Once the whole class except for one person walked into (Bauman’s English class) at 8:21,” junior Clare Fina said. “She gave every single one of us a six out of 10 for the day.”

Junior Melissa Vazquez said she recalls coming into a class at 8:22 and having to leave to sign in, even though the class had not started.

“It was dumb,” Vazquez said, slapping her palm on her desk. “On the sign-in sheet, under excuse, I wrote ‘I am not late.’”

Latin teacher Jane Batarseh and English teacher Brooke Wells mark students tardy only if they arrive after they have started teaching.

“If (the students) are like five minutes late to class, I am not going to mark them tardy,” Batarseh said. “It’s when they come in halfway through the class that it becomes a problem.”

History teacher Bruce Baird has students sign in if they are more than five minutes late.

“I am not really certain why,” Baird said. “I guess it’s a way to encourage people to come on time.”

Some students say they make more of an effort to come to first period when the teacher marks them late. Junior Lara Kong said she tries harder to be on time for Bauman’s class.

On the other hand, senior Troy Hoddick said that he doesn’t worry about coming late to teacher Ron Bell’s English class.

“The classes don’t actually start until about five or 10 minutes into class,” Hoddick said.

According to history teacher Sue Nellis, certain students tend to be tardy more often than others. Baird said teachers talk at faculty meetings about students who are notoriously tardy and how to crack down on that.

Juniors and seniors driving to school are more likely to be late because they are walking from their cars to school instead of being dropped off in the parking lot by their parents.

“I am late twice a week to first period because getting two extra minutes of sleep makes a difference,” Fina, who drives to school, said with a laugh.

Vazquez, another driver, agrees that being a driver is a good excuse for being late at times.

“A lot of the time you can’t help traffic,” Vazquez said. “You don’t want kids rushing to school and speeding on the freeway. They could die.”

Bauman, who lives nearby and walks to school, said that when she doesn’t have class first period, she often sees students walking to school from their cars around 8:30.

“They usually try to ignore me, but I always say ‘hi,’” Bauman said.

However, some students who drive always arrive to first period on time. Seniors Maddy Mahla and Sydney Jackson said they plan to arrive at school at 8 a.m.

“I make sure I have enough time, even if there is traffic,” Jackson said.

Music director Bob Ratcliff is particular about students arriving to zero period jazz band practice on time, junior Grant Miner said.

“He will mark you late if you are a minute late,” Miner said.

Students also arrive late to classes throughout the day—but this is less common, and teachers admit that they’re more flexible in those cases.

Although 63 percent of the students polled said that they arrived late to a class in the middle of the day at least once a week, most teachers do not mark them late for this.

If students walk into class late in a group and say they were held up in a class, Baird said he does not mark them late.

Wells, on the other hand, asks students who were caught up in another class to have the teacher write him an email.

Some students, such as junior Micaela Bennett-Smith, said they’re late because they are finishing last-minute homework.

Sophomores Jenny Kerb and Emma Brown walk to English class after elective, three minutes after the class has technically begun. (Photo by Cissy Shi)
Sophomores Jenny Kerbs and Emma Brown walk to English class after elective, three minutes after the class has technically begun. (Photo by Cissy Shi)

While the school does not have a strict policy on when teachers must mark students late, the consequences for accumulating too many tardies are clearly laid out.

According to Wells, Reeves warns students with more than three tardies in a quarter. Six tardies result in a note home. After the letter is sent home, if the tardiness continues, the student receives detention.

When the quarter is complete, the student gets a clean slate.

While this is the official policy, Fina argues that it is not executed.

“There isn’t really a penalty for being late in the middle of the day,” Fina said. “It kind of just gets pushed away.”

Junior Isabella Tochterman said that she is late to first period once or twice every week but has never received detention.

Junior Erin Reddy said that she is often late, but she doesn’t really care.

“Some teachers make fun of me, but it’s just jokingly,” Reddy said.

From March 17-April 10, Reeves warned only four students about accumulating too many tardies.

Miner received a lunch detention because he was late too many times. Nine of his tardies were from Ratcliff ’s morning jazz band.

Vazquez received a warning about being late to first period. “I don’t know if I am late to other classes because the teachers never tell me,” Vazquez said.

She said that because there is no clear passing period, when she is marked late, she has no way of knowing.

That’s because in the high school there are no bells to mark the start or end of class.

“I could be a minute late, and that could be considered tardy because there is no passing period,” Ham said.

Some students take advantage of the teachers’ flexibility throughout the day.

Senior Abigail Pantoja said that sometimes she is purposely late to class because she is not in the mood to go.

The clock strikes 12:45, and students begin to slowly walk to their electives.

“Crap,” junior Maxwell Shukuya says. “I didn’t realize how late I was to Orchestra.

“It doesn’t matter. She isn’t going to mark me late anyways.”

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