Laura Claire McKelvie: End Odyssey

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As a former Steamboat Springs High School student and a college sophomore, I was happy to hear students organized a successful walk-out to express their opinion about the Senior Odyssey program. It inspired me to share my own reflections on the program, which I was thankfully able to avoid while I was a senior because it wasn't yet required.

The high school claims its motto is "Respect Diversity." If that is the case, it is my sincere hope the curriculum committee will cease trying to make everyone the same. According to my personal experience and observations of fellow students, young people already know what interests them.

Why not allow them to take more classes in the areas they enjoy? Why turn their natural curiosity into drudgery by forcing them to do elementary research projects culminating in a posterboard presentation? Perhaps for a middle school class, such activities would be appropriate. A yearlong high school class in not necessary for everyone.

The Odyssey program looks more like an extension of the educational bureaucracy than any form of actual education. It forces students to jump through hoops to graduate instead of teaching them the real skills necessary for college-level classes. I took several AP classes and courses at Colorado Mountain College, but as I enroll in more upper-division classes, I still wish my time in high school had given me an even stronger base in writing and critical reading abilities. My academic competence has in no way been hurt by not taking the Odyssey class.

I understand that for the rest of this year and possibly the next, Senior Odyssey will remain a graduation requirement. But I urge the Steamboat Springs community to demand that this class become an optional course. Let the students pursue their academic or possible career interests though real classes with real teachers.

Laura Claire McKelvie

Missoula, Mont.

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