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One month into school year, officials add three new sections, teacher to keep class sizes reasonable

West Linn High School added Spanish classes and a new instructor a month into the school year.PMG FILE PHOTO - An unusually large freshmen class this year has led to an increased number of Spanish classes at WLHS.

At the beginning of the year, Spanish classes at the high school each had enrollment in the upper 30s to lower 40s, according to WLHS Principal Greg Neuman.

"There's not one magic number for class sizes," Neuman said. The ideal number of students varies by subject, but the school aimed for upper 20s to low 30s for language courses, he said.

"Scheduling is complicated," Neuman said. While most students are registered before the first day of school, others are not. The first week of classes at any school involves fluctuation, as new students enroll and students change their schedules to add or drop classes.

Once classes began to settle down, administrators could see that some of the Spanish classes were too large.

Administrators decided to add a section of Spanish 4 and two sections of Spanish 1. The school offers eight sections of the introductory Spanish 1 course.

To lead those courses, administrators decided to hire a part-time Spanish teacher.

Simon Holowatz was hired by the district.

"He is an accomplished Spanish teacher, having taught at all levels, from elementary Spanish immersion to middle and high school Spanish," Neuman wrote in a Sept. 26 email to parents and students announcing the changes.

With the new hire, the school was able to split one of the large Spanish 1 classes into two classes, meaning that some students got a new teacher, but no students had to shift their entire schedule.

For the additional upper level course, the students who switched were all volunteers.

"It's never easy to have to change around a student's schedule one month in," Neuman said, but the school was able to avoid major shifts that could force students to miss out on classes or other opportunities they had planned for.

"Our Spanish numbers have always been pretty high — a little more this year — and that had to do with the influx of a larger freshman class than normal," and more students advancing past the two required years of foreign language courses, Neuman said.

The school also adjusted staffing in a different subject since school started. It expanded Career Technical Education (CTE) options thanks to a new teacher this year.

"We're always looking to make sure that it's a good experience for kids," Neuman said.


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