The struggle of owing hours

At the end of each semester, a list is posted outside the APs office, letting students know if they owe hours and how many they owe. It's up to students to make up these hours before graduation.

At the end of each semester, long lists of papers with ID numbers and triple digit numbers next to it are taped to the wall outside the AP office. These lists are the dreaded “hours” lists. This is the time of year when everywhere you look, there’s a senior begging a teacher for hours and waving a green piece of paper in their hand.

A student owes hours from having frequent unexcused absences. If a student owes hours, credits are withheld and it will prevent them from graduating. It is required by law for a student to attend 90% of their classes all year. Tardiness can also cause a student to owe hours.

Owing hours doesn’t necessarily equate to being in trouble. We have a system where students can make up their hours and they do that preferably at school because that gives them one-on-one time with their teacher.”

— Cynthia Bode

It’s not very difficult for a student to make up the hours they owe. A student can make up hours doing community service, going to the JIT Lab before school and after school, Saturday School and by going to either session of summer school. Although some students rack up lots of hours, it’s important to make up however many you owe, because regardless if a student is passing a class, too many absences withholds credit. Without the proper amount of credits by senior year, it will keep students from graduating.

The most common reasons students owe hours are because they ditch class, don’t turn in their doctor’s notes or because they’re frequently tardy to class.

“I owe 70 hours because I’m late to school almost everyday, and I honestly skip sometimes,” senior Jose Cervantes said. “Even though I have 3/4 days, I’ve been going to the JIT lab a lot and helping teachers with stuff.”

The counselors and APs provide a student who owes hours a number of options as to how they can make up their hours, as long as the student agrees and cooperates. If a student chooses not to make up their hours and continues to be absent and/or tardy, they will end up in truancy court. In some situations, the district will file on the student, not the student’s parents.

“I owe 12 hours because I don’t turn in my doctor’s notes when I’m absent or leave school,” sophomore Dylan Kimble said. “I think I’m going to start going to the JIT Lab to make up my hours.”

In order to start making up hours in the JIT Lab, you must be approved by your AP first. The JIT lab is available for before school, after school and during Pride Time. However, utilizing the JIT Lab during Pride Time will not make up hours, unfortunately.

“Making up hours really depends on the kid,” English teacher Sarah Ambrus said. “They either go to tutorials [in my room] or do community service I help them arrange.”

If you think you owe hours, be sure to check the list right outside the AP office. The lists are separated by grade, so look for your ID number and get approved by your AP to make up your hours.