New eighth grade shadowing system is all wrong

Elika Beck, Staff writer

Last year the eighth grade shadowing program underwent a dramatic change for the worse. Minneapolis Public Schools launched a new program for prospective students to visit high schools: instead of “shadowing” a student for the day, eighth graders now come with their class and travel in groups around the school with a tour guide, stopping for a short period of time in a couple of classes.

Shadowing was a great way for students to experience a typical day at South high. They get a chance to experience a variety of classes (for the whole period) and lunch, much like they were an actual high school student. With this came more time to talk with students and teachers to hear about their experiences at South.

When I visited South as an eighth grader lots of students came up to me and introduced themselves, asked me about my day, told me about good classes and teachers and things to look out for. I had an excellent experience shadowing, and it was the reason I chose South.

The new eighth grade tours don’t get the opportunity to hear about South from a variety of students and teachers, which really is the best way to get a feel for the school. We cannot expect them to get an accurate slice of South from wandering around with their friends and spending ten minutes in a few random classes.

Not to mention those ten minutes are very disruptive to the actual students. The tours come in in the middle of class often interrupting lectures, presentations, or activities. The eighth graders are usually uncomfortable mixing in with the rest of the class and usually end up standing awkwardly in the front of the room for the few minutes that the spend in the class. Their friends provide as an extra distraction.

Now, instead of having a terrified but excited eighth grader hiding in the back of a classroom, there are now groups of overstimulated eighth graders coming in during class drawing attention away from whatever was happening before. Eighth grade tours are more disruptive than shadowing and are definitely not a very good way to get a feel for the school.