Dressed to the Nines, Tardies Under Ten

Misunderstanding of Good Standing policy increases student stress

With dresses on display in stores and invitations already sent out, prom is approaching. On April 4, juniors and seniors will be done up and dancing at Baxter Arena.

But with  the new Good Standing policy  this year, some upperclassmen won’t be attending.

The policy was created during the summer of 2019 in a meeting of principals from the metro area. After hearing of the idea from another school district, MN administration decided to adopt a new policy.

“MPS [and] MNHS needed an incentive to get more students to attend school more regularly and arrive on time to class more consistently,” head principal Brian Begley said.

Though the awareness of this new policy has been widespread throughout the building, the implementation and understanding of it has been confusing for students. 

The requirements seem simple but can be hard to fulfill. To be in good standing, students must be passing four classes, absent less than 10% of the school days, and have fewer than 10 tardies.

Passing four classes is fair, as it’s already the requirement to play any sport or participate in other extracurriculars at MN. As both these and Prom are privileges, the attendance policy is understandable. 

Keeping a low tardy count can be hard to achieve though, due to the size of the school and other matters that are simply beyond a student’s control.

The third limitation, the class attendance requirement, is actually much simpler than how it’s presented. The only two types of absences that count against a student are truant and unexcused absences. 

“An unexcused absence is an absence that a parent calls in but that doesn’t meet one of the requirements for an excused absence as defined by district policy,” assistant principal Aaron Bearinger said. 

With school activities not counted against them, teams like cheer and dance, who missed school for state and nationals, can still attend prom, as long as they meet the other requirements.

Without the knowledge of the specific guidelines, stress runs rampant in those who have missed lots of school or can’t get to class on time. 

While having a policy is fair, some of the specific requirements are not. Being tardy ten times may seem excessive to administration, but it is easier to reach than one would think. Just because a student is running late doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be able to go to a school dance.

There might be valid reasons to be tardy, but the reason behind it doesn’t matter to the policy.

Heavy traffic can delay a student’s arrival to first hour, and busy MN halls create a struggle to get to class on time, especially if a student is walking from one side of the building to the other. This doesn’t mean they aren’t keeping up with their school work and being responsible in their studies.

“I know as a girl I don’t have enough time to use the bathroom and make it across the school in the short passing periods,” sophomore Rachel Herman said. 

Good Standing affects more students than just juniors and seniors. It also hurts underclassmen who plan to attend prom.

“The policy is stressful; I wanted to go to prom this year with a junior friend but I can’t  because I have more than 10 tardies,” sophomore Sara Hensley said.

Along with the vague implementation, students don’t know of their standing until they go to buy a ticket. 

“At the time of Prom ticket sales, I run a report and determine who is on the list. When a student goes to buy a prom ticket, they will not be allowed to pay for a ticket if their name is on the list.  A student can appeal to the grade-level administrator if they think something is not right,” Bearinger said. 

Even though absences and tardies reset during semester break, the limitations on attendance can hurt a student’s ability to participate in school dances.  

Administration is on track with their attendance incentive, but there are still some issues for students with the implementation and requirements. With a new year around the corner, hopefully the remaining issues can be resolved and students can finally feel at ease with this new approach.