What optioning is like during Covid-19

The virtual optioning timeline.

Photo courtesy of: WHHS counseling team

The virtual optioning timeline.

WHHS students in grades 7-11 were greeted with a surprise as they logged on to their online social studies classes during early January. Instead of the usual lecture or powerpoint, a video on how to option for their  classes entirely online was shown. This signifies the beginning of a WHHS tradition where students select their classes for the upcoming school year. 

While COVID-19 has changed almost everything, one of the things it has changed the most is the optioning process. Previously, students would go into the auditorium by grade level to listen to a presentation made by their grade level counselors. 

The presentation covered everything they needed to know about optioning, graduation requirements and answered any questions students may have. They were also given a paper form to be submitted for optioning along with the Powerschool submission.

“This year because we are remote instead of us going into the auditorium like we normally do and instead of meeting with the social studies classes bell by bell, we created an optioning video for each grade level,” tenth grade Counselor Renita Brooks said. 

While the optioning process this year is different than it has been in previous years, it is not to say it is without its flaws. Some students find it more difficult to reach out to teachers or counselors with questions about optioning or classes they might want to take a part in. 

I feel like it is being handled well, I do think that some people have very specific questions and the people who need to answer them are a little distant,” Talah Fananapazir, ‘25, said.

Another challenge with optioning online is that students don’t get to submit a paper form as a written back up if something goes wrong. 

“The biggest difference is that while you’re able to go into PowerSchool to select your classes each year, we also had that paper form as a backup and this year we do not have that paper form as a backup,” Brooks said, “I anticipate that it’s going to get a little hairy next year because we don’t have it. Sometimes students forget that they optioned for something or unfortunately they’ll say ‘no I didn’t choose that’ and I’ll pull out the form and say ‘yeah you did’, so that’s not going to be an option this year.”

Some students believe that the administrative staff are adapting well to the new situation. 

I feel like optioning is being handled very well by the staff during COVID-19,” Annabel Auger, ‘26, said, “I was new to Walnut this year and so I had never optioned until this year, and the teachers and counselors and everyone else who helped with it really helped to make the process easy.”

Not everyone agrees with how the administration is going about the optioning process this year…

Lucy Sellinger, ‘25, said, “Not a lot of people know about it a lot.”

 A tool that has helped students with deciding what classes to option for are the elective highlights on Schoology. These are promotions posted by the WHHS Library’s Schoology page which provide short descriptions of offered electives.

 “I think it is helpful because kids who have never taken the course don’t know what to expect, with the elective spotlight people will have an idea of what to expect,” Landen Cummins, ‘26, said. 

Optioning, while often a daunting task, is very important to WHHS students as it decides their future for the upcoming school year and beyond. Even though picking classes during a pandemic could’ve been challenging, it is very important, as optioning is an integral part of picking one’s future.