Our View: Second step for Senior Odyssey

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Kudos to the Steamboat Springs School Board for finding such a good compromise to address contentions surrounding its Senior Odyssey graduation requirement.

As we have argued before, Senior Odyssey, which combines experiential and classroom learning in an in-depth, career-oriented final project, is a meaningful program that helps distinguish the quality of education offered at Steamboat Springs High School. We firmly believe in the experience Odyssey provides to seniors, giving them a taste of the world they are on the verge of entering, whether that be a vocational career or college studies, should be preserved as a graduation requirement.

However, since being initiated last year, the program has come under fire from parents and students who think it is a waste of time and energy for certain students.

Mostly, the district has heard criticism from the families of high-achieving students who say those students already are loaded with advanced-placement coursework and already have the skills taught in the classroom portion of Senior Odyssey.

It's been a frustrating summer for the School Board, trying to deal with the criticism of a program that the district spent seven years developing. The solution it unanimously approved Monday does the best possible job of responding to the concerns without dismantling the valuable program.

Senior Odyssey will remain a graduation requirement for the upcoming school year while a committee looking at all graduation requirements determines its long-term future.

However, unlike last year, students will have the option of requesting an exemption from part of the class, which should satisfy the naysayers.

But the School Board carefully made sure that the exemption process is no walk in the park and should not be used as an easy-out for students who simply don't want to take on the substantial amount of work that Senior Odyssey requires.

Students will have to take the initiative to appeal for an exemption and go through an appeals process strict enough to filter out those students trying to avoid the hard work required by Senior Odyssey.

We applaud the board for not abandoning a carefully developed program under fire from a small but vocal group of critics. But we also applaud the board for listening and responding to those critics, rather than discounting them and forging full-steam ahead.

This interim step should help ensure the flexibility needed to meet the educational needs of each member of the Class of 2006, while buying time for a graduation-requirements committee to take a broader, more careful look at the need for what we think is a valuable program.

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