By ERIN ROLL
Montclair High School needs to better publicize its academic courses, some of its students say.
But the school also needs to teach practical, life-based skills, like balancing a checkbook, figuring out car insurance and knowing what to do when a jury-duty summons comes in the mail.
Alissa Brown and Olivia Chipepo, seniors at Montclair High School, are members of the Youth Council of the Montclair Branch NAACP; Brown serves as the council’s first vice president and Chipepo is its treasurer.
They appeared before the board of education at last week’s meeting to outline a series of items that were of concern to students at MHS; Brown explained that the concerns had been mentioned at the council’s youth town hall on Aug. 16.
“As we did mention at our discussion panel, most of the youth … they feel that these issues and topics were not discussed enough and not addressed,” Brown said. “And it’s like we feel, as youth, that sometimes we are kind of overlooked, and some of our issues are not put into perspective from our side.”
One suggestion was a course for practical arts and life-based skills. This would include personal finances, as well as civics-based issues such as voting and jury duty. A lot of students were unaware of some of those things, Brown said.
“And when they go into the real world, they’re confused. And they end up sometimes in trouble because, sometimes, they don’t realize they have to show up for jury duty when they get the letter.”
The course would also cover how to pay taxes, the students said. “I want to learn how to avoid certain taxes and certain interests,” Brown said, to some laughter from the board and audience.
Chipepo concurred that some of her friends who are now in college would have wanted to learn how to pay taxes, as well as how to understand how car insurance works.
As for academics, Brown and Chipepo wanted the school to make sure that honors and AP courses, and electives, were publicized enough so students could take them into consideration when arranging their courses; a lot of students, for whatever reason, did not hear about a course they would have enjoyed until after it was too late to revise their schedule, they said.
Another issue of concern was the amount of homework that MHS students receive, often on top of outside responsibilities such as sports, extracurriculars, after-school jobs and college preparation.
At the end of the presentation, Chipepo and Brown posted their contact information and that of the other students involved with the NAACP’s youth council, so members of the public could contact them if they wished.
Interim Superintendent Barbara Pinsak noted that BOE member Joe Kavesh had attended the Aug. 16 youth town hall meeting, and that the board invited the students to speak at its meeting as a result.