Extra Freshman Enrollment Leads to Larger Classes


Nakole Turner

The number of freshmen entering Southfield High in the fall of 2015 was greater than last year by 31 students, according to Counseling Center Secretary Shirley Lewis. In many cases, those extra students said they came to Southfield High this year rather than wait until the planned forced merge of high schools next fall. Source: SHS Counseling Center. Compiled by Nakole Turner

Freshman Jelani Walls was supposed to attend Southfield-Lathrup High School this year, but, instead, he enrolled at Southfield High School.
“I wanted to avoid the merge” of the two high schools next year, Walls said.
He is one of dozens of freshmen who came to Southfield High one year early, rather than waiting for Southfield-Lathrup to merge with Southfield High next year.
The surprise influx of ninth graders helped create colossal classes during the first weeks of school.
Spanish teacher David Shaw looked out and saw 72 students enrolled in one of his classes the first week. His classroom was built to hold 24 to 30 students. He did not have seats for all of them and had to relocate his fifth hour class to a bigger room until the class size was reduced to 38 in the fourth week of school.
Shaw said his classes were larger this year because some students came to Southfield High to avoid the merge next year.
Science teacher Jennifer Bargardi said she had 44 students in her second hour Biology class the first week of school, which was a unique challenge for her students.
Approximately 20 students in Bargardi’s class didn’t have a desk, so some students had to sit on lab tables until the class was reduced to 30 students at the end of September.
To give all Biology students a chance to participate, Bargardi divided her class in half to complete lab assignments. “While half of the class was performing a lab assignment, the other half was completing a worksheet,” Bargardi said.
“I don’t mind being in a big class,” said Kolby Dickerson, a freshman enrolled in a Biology class of 44 students. “I’m fine with it, it’s a good class, but it does get loud during group work.”
The growth in numbers is hard on some people. “With so many students in one classroom, it is difficult to get all the students focused and at attention,” Shaw said.
To alleviate the stress of large classes, administrators hired two more teachers and adjusted schedules to create more classes.
“No classroom should have over 35 students,” said Assistant Principal Scott Tocco, who aimed to balance all classes by October 30.
Southfield High School and Southfield-Lathrup High School are scheduled to merge into one unified high school with a new name in the fall of 2016. The merge is a result of declining enrollment. Several neighboring school districts have also merged schools for the same reason.