Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


May 2, 2013

Saturday make-up classes pass test

70 percent attendance for special high school session

ANDOVER — It was a beautiful, sunny, spring day on Saturday. Perfect for yard work, going for a walk or sitting in the sun.

Or, for 1,135 Andover High School students, it was a great day to sit in a classroom.

“It wasn’t awful,” senior Kelsey Stevens, 18, said. “Since there weren’t as many students, teachers had to hold back on their lesson plans, so it was pretty relaxed.”

Plus, she said, “it was pajama day.”

Even though administrators and teachers did the best they could to make the day as palatable as possible, just 70 percent of the students showed up, a far cry from the usual 93 to 95 percent on a typical weekday, said high school Principal Chris Lord.

“I’m not particularly happy,” Lord said. “I expected more, but it wasn’t completely unexpected.”

He said there were 536 excused absences and 120 unexcused absences out of the 1,791 enrolled students. Several groups were out of town that day, including the choir group competing in the nationals in Chicago and the drama club at a competition in Framingham. There was also an Ultimate Frisbee tournament that members of the club team were allowed excused absences for.

Lord said administrators are still trying to track down what happened to the 120 students who appear to have had no excuse to be out of school for the day.

“We have investigative procedures in place for them,” he said.

The high school was forced to hold classes on Saturday due to a combination of events, including snow days, a gas leak and a number of religious holidays that put students and staff out of school.

Districts across the state are required to have 180 school days for students and 184 days for teachers, he said. All of the other schools in the district were able to meet the requirement without calling a Saturday session.

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