Course Selection Advice and F.A.Q.s

Course Selection Advice

1) Appraise your student's strengths and weaknesses and include your student in this discussion. What are they passionate about? Are they interested in learning for the sake of learning? Can they multi-task and stay organized and motivated during busy times? When does your student need support to be successful? These are just a few of the questions to ponder as you consider what level of acadmeic load your student can handle.

2) Develop a four year plan that accounts for graduation requirements as well as post high school plans. Review this four year plan as a family ever winter before course selection in February. The curriculum guide is essential for this step.

3) Allow flexibility. The classes a student chooses depends on many factors including, level of difficulty, interest, post high school plans and available time to pursue a 6th subject. Student's go through several stages of growth throughout high school and their goals and post high school aspirations can change often.

4) Consider course selection very carefully. The course selection data that is collected in February drives staffing and fiscal decisions and also drives the building of the master schedule. It is very difficult and sometimes not possible to change your course requests after sections have been developed and seats filled. Please refer to the registration timeline concerning the master schedule building process. 


Q- Should I take 5 or 6 classes?

A- All students must be enrolled in at least five academic classes plus Physical Education and Lunch. Students can choose to add a sixth class as an elective. All freshman are required to be in attendance for all 8 periods of the day. All freshman will be enrolled in English, Math and Science. Freshman electing five classes will have two elective classes in addition to Physical Education, Lunch and a full period Study Hall. Freshman electing to take 6 classes will have three elective classes in addition to Physical Education and Lunch. Those students will not have a ful period Study Hall. Typically 70% of our freshman will take six classes plus Lunch and PE. As you consider 5 or 6 classes, it is your task as parents and our task as educators to help your children to stretch and explore, encourage them to grow, yet not have them overwhelmed.

Q- Do I have to take Physical Education?

A- All students must be enrolled in a PE class for every semester they are in attendance  except for when they are enrolled in Health or Driver's Education.  Freshman PE is divided into two parts: one semester will be a PE class and other semester will be a Health class which is required for graduation. Juniors and seniors who are in a varsity sport may be exempt from PE if they meet several guidelines. Upperclassmen who are exempt from PE are enrolled in a Study Hall in place of PE.

Q- When will I have lunch?

A- Lunches are randomly assigned to students during periods 4 through 7. Students cannot request a specific lunch period (unless there is a documented medical reason). For half of the year, freshman will be assigned to take two programs during half of their lunch period. The first program is called Skills for Success and it consists of a 9 week program on study skills, test taking strategies and it even does some preliminary work for the College Resource Center. The second program is Computer Skills. It is also a 9 week program that concentrates on word processing and typing skills. Again both of these programs meet for 9 weeks, five days a week for 25 minutes a day during the student's lunch period.

Q- How many honors classes should my son or daughter take?

 A- This answer is going to vary from student to student.  Some students take virtually all honors classes and are quite successful.  Other students find taking one or two honors classes to be a good fit.  Students and their families should take numerous things into consideration when deciding on the number of honors classes to take.  For example, how much time outside of school does the student have to devote to homework?  Considering that, what extra-curricular commitments is the student likely to have?  What other outside commitments does the student have such as church, scouts, volunteering?  What kind of family commitments will the student have?  Does the student work?   How much time will the student have to relax, eat, and sleep with the added workload of honors classes?  The answers to these questions differ from student to student and families should make decisions based on their own circumstances, not what their friends may be doing. Ultimately, our goal is to have an academically challenged student, not one who is overwhelmed.

Q- What should I do if I don’t agree with my course recommendations?

A- Family input in the recommendation process is very important. If you are not in agreement with a course recommendation then you should contact the Department Supervisor who made the recommendation and discuss a possible override (see the insert in the mailing for how to contact the appropriate DS or click here). The Department Supervisor made their recommendation after reviewing your Explore results and discussing your abillities with your 8th grade teachers. Their goal in making this recommendation is to place you in the most academically appropriate course where you will have the best opportunity for success.

Recommendation Process

Our Department Supervisors (DS) recommend a course load that is best fitted for each student. The data shows that students who override a recommendation are often in over their heads and may not do as well as they had planned.

VHHS Department Supervisors use these factors to make course recommendations for incoming 9th graders.

1)      8th grade teacher  recommendations

2)      MAP scores

Using MAP test results and 8th grade teacher recommendations, the Department Supervisors make tentative placement recommendations for each student in English, International Languages, Math, Science and Social Studies. During the last week in January, these tentative recommendations are taken back to the 8th grade teachers and reviewed.  The final recommendations are then compiled and mailed home for the student and their parents to review. The input from the student and their parents is vital in deciding what classes are a best fit for the student.

If a family would like to discuss their student’s recommendations, they are welcome to call the appropriate DS for review.  It is the Department Supervisor's role to discuss their recommendation and the pros and cons of a possible override in their department. It is the counselor's role to help the student look at the big picture and manage their course selection amidst all other decisions and factors that may be involved.  The DS, along with the student's counselor, will lead the family through a discussion that will help the family choose the best course of action. There are many factors to consider when thinking about overriding a recommendation, including extracurricular involvement, total academic load, ability of the student to handle stress, available study time, the level of the student's organization and study skills, and passion for the subject.

Department Supervisor Department Phone Number
Tara Nieves English 847-932-2024
Cheryl Steffens International Languages 847-932-2015
Judy Smithhisler Math 847-932-2012
Mark Prosise Science 847-932-2004
Jim Seward Social Studies 847-932-2009
Andrew Russell Fine Arts 847-932-2282
Michael McCaulou Physical Welfare 847-932-2172
Cheryl Steffens Business/FACS/Applied Tech 847-932-2015

Course Selection & Optional Counselor Appointments

All 8th graders will receive their course recommendations and enrollment forms during the last week in January. Families are encouraged to read the instructions, review the materials and choose their classes for 9th grade and mail in their course selection forms by February 12th, 2016.

During the week of February 8th, if a family has questions about course selection or transitioning to high school, counselors will be available for OPTIONAL appointments.  You may or may not not have an opportunity to meet with your assigned counselor as not all counselors will be at the feeder schools. To make an appointment to see a counselor at your feeder school, please call Marla Pierce by February 5th at 847-932-2002.

Counselors will be visiting the feeder schools on the dates listed below:

TBA- Hawthorn MSN

TBA- Hawthorn MSS