The differences between the high school my daughters attended in Florida and the high school my son is now attending in Idaho are vast. I’m not suggesting that the differences would match every school in both states, but the differences severely outweigh the similarities and I thought it would be something worth spending time on.
Orange Park High School consists of a number of buildings which include the main office, a vocational wing, a wing used primarily for adult education in the evenings as well as spill over classes, a gym, a Navy ROTC room, a band room, and who knows how many portables in the back, and like most modern day high schools, it has a football field. The main building is two stories while the others are only one.
Orange Park High School has seen lots of changes the last few years, going from being a very, very large high school with close to 3,000 students in 2009 to losing close to 1,000 of it’s students in 2010 when Oakleaf High School opened its doors. Hence the use of portables; they came and left with the extra students.
Orange Park High School students generally take six classes at a time for approximately 50 minutes each day. The school has a few vending machines but they are difficult to get to, and offers breakfast and lunch, sometimes at a discount if a student qualifies for the free or reduced lunch program. All of the core academic classes: English, math, social studies, and science, are under 25 students at all times due to the Florida class size amendment. Year long classes are deemed one credit while half year or semester classes are deemed half credits. I believe that is the same throughout the state.
In Orange Park High School, electronic devises held by the students are majorly frowned upon and cell phone use is forbidden during the school day. My daughter, when she attended, refused to keep her cell phone on her for fear of it being confiscated and the risk of suspension over her head. In addition, food and drinks are generally not allowed in the classrooms but that is somewhat at the discretion of the teachers. That holds true to the use of gum and eating candy in the classroom as well.
All students sign up for classes for the upcoming school year during the previous year in the spring whether that be in the high school or in the junior highs in 8th grade. Upcoming 9th graders are offered a special introduction to the school during a few days in the summer, where they can come in, learn the rules and what the school has to offer, and see where their classes will be. I believe they can also purchase a locker during that time. Lockers and locks cost about $3.00 for the year.
The week before school starts, the school has specific hours in which students can come and pick up their schedules. Homeroom assignments are posted around school prior to school starting as well as on the first day so students know where to go. If a student doesn’t get his schedule ahead of time, they can pick them up from homeroom the first day of school. At that time, if any changes need to be made regarding student addresses or changes of schedule, they are worked on.
Students have a designated home room but do not attend it all the time. They go the first few days of school as an orientation and for the teachers to do a required head count and then only return as needed to get report cards and for standardized testing in the spring. The head count is required on certain days at the beginning of the year to determine student numbers and to ensure that teacher numbers are adequate for each school. Teachers often get moved around the first few weeks of school depending on the numbers.