Cry of the Hawk

The student news site of North Harford High School

Cry of the Hawk

Cry of the Hawk


Should the northern Harford County area have its own 'snow zone' for inclement weather days?

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Hawks social studies department faces changes

Freshmen, sophomores, juniors all to take US history

    In the 2024-2025 school year, the social studies department will be experiencing some changes.  All social studies teachers will be teaching US History. Incoming freshmen will have just finished their first course in eighth grade.  In place of government during freshman year, they will take their second course of US History. Current sophomores and juniors will be taking the class as well.

        History department chair Melissa Winter explains the transition and what it means. “The Social Studies Supervisor for HCPS wanted to align the US history curriculum closer together.” She continues, “Since students take the first half of US history in eighth grade, she thought the logical progression would be to have the second half in ninth grade.” She adds, “And now that MCAP for government is not a graduation requirement we don’t need it in ninth grade.”  She explains the original  reason for putting the course in ninth grade years ago was “to give students as many opportunities to pass the government exam for the graduation requirement.”

     Winter shares her own opinions on the transition. “ I don’t think it’s a bad idea to teach US history back to back years.  The gap from 8th grade to 11th grade was pretty major and most students didn’t remember a lot of US history by the time they got to 11th grade.” She adds, “Teachers throughout the county are mixed about the change.”

     U.S. history teacher Mr. Chuck Selfe explains the change of classes and the impact it will have. “They’re changing the sequence of the courses,” he explains. “For years, it’s been argued by most social studies teachers in the county that government does not belong in ninth grade  – and this may be true or not – but it was felt that the only reason that it was in ninth grade was that it gave students four  years to pass the HSA.” 

     Selfe adds, “having US history in ninth grade makes a lot more sense, because you take it in eighth grade then you just pick it back up the following year.” He believes “there was this huge gap for years now between eight grade and then eleventh grade; [I can see the impact of this when] I would ask student a question about the Civil War in eleventh grade, and they would just blankly stare at me because they can’t remember what happen four years ago in their class.” He also feels, “this will be a smoother and better transition rather than waiting until eleventh grade to continue the class.”

     The teacher shares what he sees as the benefits and negatives to the class sequence switch. “I taught government to mostly juniors and seniors, because I used to teach AP government years ago, and it just seemed a lot more appropriate because the students know and have previously learned more about society and things going on in the world, so there was just a lot more to talk about.” He continues, “I would prefer that they would have swapped ninth and eleventh grade because I think that would have caused the least disturbance and I think that having government in eleventh grade even makes a little bit more sense than tenth grade but I’m not sure how this lines up with the rest of the state.”  He adds that he thinks “a lot of the rest of the state is doing it the way we are going to next year with US in 9th government in 10th and World in 11.”    

      This sequence order switch affects teachers directly, especially teachers who haven’t taught US History and will have to learn and create a new curriculum to teach their new course. “Everybody’s teaching US History next year, it’s going to be different. For some teachers who know that that’s the only year they will ever teach US History it is going to be a little weird for them,” said Selfe.   “I’m sure that they will do great, their professionals and they will put everything   into it, but I’m also sure that they will miss teaching what they normally teach,” the history teacher shares.         

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