Facing academics

November 8, 2021


Fiona Zheng

Working in RS1, freshman Lemar Samizay continues his progress on the final project. “I didn’t find it difficult. I just had to [put] more time into studying and doing homework, and I just adapted to it,” Samizay said.

The Jefferson classroom.

It’s been the source of widespread stress, competitiveness, and debates over workload . Now with the Class of 2025 getting settled behind desks, Jefferson faces controversy once more.


Ever since changes to the Jefferson admissions process were approved in December, the class of 2025 has faced rampant speculation over its academic qualifications. But from RS1 classrooms to biology labs, teachers and counselors say that they haven’t seen anything to suggest that the new admissions policy has led to a drop in grade performance or curriculum rigor.

“The ninth graders to me seem delightful. The vibe I get is the kids have lots of personality and seem pretty eager to learn,” counselor Sean Burke said. “[Grade performance] seems very typical to me at this point. The transition into TJ is hard, and there’s no way to prepare for it.”

Though many teachers have in fact been forced to adjust their curriculum to start the year, they have done so because of the learning gaps opened up by a year-and-a-half of online learning, as opposed to the admissions process for the newest class. In regards to math, for example, students were given a self-paced learning tool to develop the algebra skills needed to succeed in Jefferson math.

“With people coming from so many places with different algebra backgrounds and because we have so many more students who are in RS1, to help that process, we have a program called ALEKS which is adaptive to each student,” math teacher Marianne Razzino said.

Foundations of Computer Science teacher Shane Torbert cautioned observers not to jump to conclusions about the admissions process simply because of curriculum changes across classes.

It’s actually important to know when two things have no relation to each other. Changes to the curriculum are not necessarily because of the admissions process.

— Mr. Torbert

“If I hadn’t known anything different happened with the admissions process, I would not have noticed anything out of the ordinary,” Torbert said. “It’s actually important to know when two things have no relation to each other. Changes to the curriculum are not necessarily because of the admissions process.”

For freshman Lemar Samizay, Jefferson’s increased workload was a shock at first. However, the former Hayfield Secondary School student has since eased into the school’s academic life.

“There is more work and studying and learning information required here. I just laid more time into studying and doing homework, and I just adapted to [Jefferson],” Samizay said.

Whether due to the long spell of online learning, or because of the diversity of backgrounds, freshman English teacher Stephanie Glotfelty has sensed that the Class of 2025 is calmer than previous years of Jefferson students.

“I think this year, the main difference is they’re more okay with going with the flow. People seem more okay with whatever’s coming up. Previous classes, if any kind of structure was changed, they had a harder time dealing with that,” Glotfelty said.

The individualism intrinsic to Jefferson’s newest class has also stood out to Principal Ann Bonitatibus.

“I’ve seen a lot of the incoming freshmen class chart their own course here at TJ. Sometimes, we get into some TJ mythologies about, when you’re a freshman, you have to do this, or take this course,” Bonitatibus said. “I’ve really seen some independence with the Class of 2025, approaching it as: this what I’m interested in, and I don’t have to do this over here because my counselor told me or my teachers told me this. I’m just gonna do what I like.”


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