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Scheduling Conflicts Eliminate River Dell Organic Chem Class

Students demand to know what the conflicts are and chance for course to run; Board calls situation a "Pandora's Box"

After one year running, some of the highest science-minded students at are left in a lurch as an for Fall 2012 has been cancelled due to scheduling conflicts. But the group, many of which are looking to study medicine later in the life, have taken their fight to the Board of Education in hopes of determining what the conflicts are and how it could be resolved.

"We've been pushing for this class to run since the beginning," Anthony said. Each student who spoke with Patch requested that their full names not be used. "My take on this is we shouldn't have to push the district to run this class, they should be pushing us to take the highest classes they offer."

The program, considered a required class in college for students looking to enter medical school or the nursing field, Organic Chemistry (also known as Orgo) involves the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives. It ran this past school year with 11 students and 10 registered for the 2012-13 year.

"This class challenges us to our absolute highest potential," Joan added. "It's rare that you have students asking to learn. Nowadays students are not as concerned for their education as they used to be but our nation is behind in learning science and technology."

To take part in the Organic Chemistry class, registered students must have previously taken AP Chemistry or AP Biology or currently be enrolled in one of them. 

"The three seniors who are going to Ivy league schools are taking organic chemistry now," Melanie said. "I would consider taking SUPA Physics instead."

Without organic chemistry being offered next fall, several students are scheduled to take anatomy as their fourth year of science instead. Although they have continually requested to be informed of what their conflict course is so they could make an informed decision, that option has not been offered to them as of yet.

If organic chemistry was offered during period two or four, nine out of 10 students have a course conflict. Period five has four out of 10 students with a conflict.

"They told us when the conflicts are, but not for each person," Joan said. "If it's between this class and honors physics, I would rather take organic chemistry over honors physics."

Pandora's Box

During the June 4 Board of Education meeting, board member Dorothea Durand had moved that the district offer the course if at least 8 students were signed up but failed 6-2.

"This is the second year wer are reviewing classes, two years of math and science and I'm concerned this is becoming a habit," board member Roger Tashjian said in reference to the but . "Our students self select their classes but we have to draw a line somewhere in the sand. I hate to take the class out of students hands, but we can't do this every year."

A second motion by board member Michael Chakansky to inform the registered students of what their conflict courses are and then if all are willing to give up a different course, so long as it is not part of the core curriculum, and take organic chemistry instead would the class be offered in the fall. That motion deadlocked 4-4 as Paul Barnes was absent from the meeting. 

"We're a district that has the opportunity ot offer this and make it outstanding from an academic view," Chakansky said. "We should when we can, go the extra yard and offer it especially when we have a group of seniors who are looking to be challenged."

Aside from , the Bergen County Academies is the only other known high school in the area to offer organic chemistry.  also offers organic chemistry to its students.

The River Dell Board of Education meets on Monday, 8pm in the high school media center.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Eamon Harbord at Eamon.Harbord@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

lucky June 18, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Truly a shame - at a time when our country is desperate for science and math professionals instead of encouraging RD students to be the best they can be - we send them the message that they don't matter. They should be satisfied with what works for the average students. As Mrs. Durand mentioned that night - RD doesn't think twice of funding a hockey team with 10 players, but a class that only the cream of the crop will want to take - that we eliminate. Shame on the BOE members that think its too much trouble to review classes - if you're not on the board to do the best that you can for the students then maybe it's time for you to leave. It's no wonder we continue to lose students to the academies. Thank you to Mrs. Durand and Mr. Chakansky for trying to fight for what is right for ALL students.
ling ling August 30, 2012 at 07:36 PM
I am not surprised. RDHS has eliminated most of the electives already. Its pathetic and not suprising that we just dropped over 100 places in High School ranking. River Dell has to do better and we must hold the superintendent and board accountable.

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