School adjusts to influx of new students


Photo by Lucia Wallace

Bernadette Macleod’s beginning theatre classes are packed, some with 40 or more students.

Story by Andy Fialko, Entertainment Editor

The beginning of the school year at East Meck has brought in more new students than in recent years. The freshman class is 709 students and there are 2,079 students in total. Last year, the total was around 1,850. What changed?

“I’m hoping that it’s because of our brand,” said Principal Rick Parker. “We have a good graduation rate, we’re a global ready school, we have a great culinary program. People want to get involved in these things. Because of what we’re doing good here, people are starting to come.”

The city of Charlotte is also growing. Everywhere you look, the city is making improvements. Last year, The Charlotte Observer reported that 109 new people move to Charlotte every day.

The school’s growth has had a great impact on class sizes. Dozens of classes have more than 30 students per period, a few even breaking 40. Students have felt the effects of these unusually large classes.

“It’s really confusing when everybody’s talking and the teacher can’t calm everybody down,” sophomore Kate McCanna said. “It’s hard for other people to learn who want to learn. If there was more space it’d be fine.”

For hundreds of freshmen making the transition from middle school to high school, the sheer volume of some classes has come as a shock. Most freshmen are used to smaller classes, with easier access to the teacher.

“For me, 20 is around a comfortable number,” said freshman James Compton, who came from a school with an average class size of 15. “The teacher has more time to focus on individual issues and is better able to cater to each student versus having to spread out their resources.”

Some students haven’t been able to enroll in the classes they need, with many core classes at maximum capacity. Instead, they’ve enrolled in online versions of such classes, spending time in the media center and at home learning the material. For some, this is the perfect solution.

“I prefer [the online class] just because I can work at my own pace instead of having to wait for others,” said sophomore Quincy Thompson, who takes his CTE class online. “[But] there’s no actual teacher there, so you have to kind of learn things yourself.”

Art classes, such as theatre arts, can’t be taken online. Theatre classes are more interactive, and their high demand has brought some beginning theatre classes to the 40 student mark. Fortunately, theatre teacher Bernadette Macleod has experience with larger classes.

“I’m used to [having bigger classes] because I had 40 at the middle school level,” Macleod said. “The only difference is 40 high schoolers take up a lot more space than 40 middle schoolers. They’re so much bigger, they’re like adults.”

Administrators are working hard to keep everything running smoothly, even with so many more students. With the new building expected to be finished in the spring, changes are on their way.

“When the new building opens, that’s going to give us some more space,” Parker said. “We’re also in for the 2017 bond to get more of our buildings rebuilt and renovated. If that bond goes through, within five years we’ll be doing construction on another whole phase of our campus.”