Shepaug Valley School maintains graduation requirements

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox
Region 12 Superintendent Megan Bennett

Region 12 Superintendent Megan Bennett

Hearst Connecticut Media File photo

WASHINGTON — Shepaug Valley School has not changed any of its graduation requirements as a result of the pandemic but, where appropriate, accommodations have been made, according to officials.

Shepaug Valley is the only public high school in Regional School District 12, which includes students from includes from Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington.

According to Superintendent Megan Bennett, graduation requirements have continued to remain consistent year to year: Students still need 25 credits to graduate.

“We still have the required credits students need to achieve for graduation,” she said, adding students have not had any issues with credit recovery.

However, as a result of the pandemic, accommodations have been made within courses to adjust some of the demands and expectations, recognizing that the pandemic has made an impact.

As an example, Bennett referenced the required project seniors must complete in order to graduate.

“We recognize things like the ability to hold public events were completely restricted during the pandemic,” she said.

This played a factor, she said, in students’ ability to present and showcase their information to the public.

She said she wants to make certain students are ready for life after graduation, and taking away any courses or opportunities as a result of the pandemic was “not really on anybody’s horizon. But certainly, looking at how the opportunities were presented and changes that needed to be made and accommodated for, was considered.”

Kim Gallo, Shepaug Valley principal, said students have received much support over the course of the pandemic, to complete their classwork.

Especially for the at-home learners, she said, “it can be difficult. It’s been a long haul. But we put a lot of stop gaps in place — people to help them, and support Zooms so that kids can get their work done.”

Gallo said the biggest factor the school has had to think about during this period is the senior community service requirement of 30 hours.

“This isn’t a huge requirement, but in pandemic it can be difficult,” Gallo said. “So, we’ve worked with kids pretty closely to say — not only ‘what could you do?’ but ‘what are you comfortable with doing? What is your family comfortable with doing?’”

One example of how the pandemic may have changed students’ feelings is volunteering in public places, such as at the local soup kitchen.

“In a non-pandemic year, you can show up at a soup kitchen and you can help out, and you’re shoulder to shoulder with other volunteers,” Gallo said.

“Now, lots of families are not comfortable with their kids doing that, especially that you walk in not knowing, first of all, whether everybody’s going to wear a mask; and second of all, how many people are going to be there,” Gallo said. “That can be scary.”

In light of that, over April vacation, one of the Shepaug teachers offered an alternative community service project — a trail clean-up.

“The kids did that — they did a great service, which was outdoors, and they did it in a good way,” she said.

In general, with regard to graduation requirements, Gallo added each students’ situation is evaluated on an individual basis.

“I’m very confident in saying that the kids that cross our stage have completed the board requirements to the very best of their ability, and just as importantly, that they’ve had the support that they need to do it,” Gallo said.

sfox@milfordmirror.com