Opinion: ASK Is Not the Place It Used to Be

April 24, 2018


By Molly Arseneau

Four years ago, when I first started at ASK as a 7th grader, people would ask me about my school all the time and I could honestly and confidently tell them that it was a great school and how I loved it. Now, at the end of my sophomore year, I have come to find that all the things that I loved and made ASK unique are a lie.

When I think of ASK, I think of an amazing charter school that treats its scholars like independent adults in preparation for the real world. I’ve always noticed that the scholars are trusted more by managers compared to most high schools so we have opportunities like leaving the classroom without having to ask and being able to access our cell phones without consequence. Now, managers are enforcing things such as sign-out sheets and boxes that everyone has to put their phone in before class. There has even been talk of banning phones on campus next year.

All high school students used to be able to sign out and leave campus for lunch with permission from a parent. Now, this opportunity has been limited to only seniors. If we already don’t have a lot of things most high schools get (such as off-campus lunch, more interesting electives, free transportation to and from school, a gym, etc.) and most of our freedoms that made ASK different are being taken from us over time, what do we have?

I feel like ASK has also taken an academic decline. Managers constantly assign book work and worksheets when we are known as a project-based, hands-on-learning school. I have had probably ⅓ of the amount of projects as I did last year.

I recently learned that some of the courses I planned to take as an upperclassman are no longer an option. We can no longer be a student aide, no longer have early release or late arrival, and we don’t have the option to have a study hall in order to take an online course or dual enrollment during school hours for credits that we need (high school and college). The exception for late arrival is for scholars who either have an early sport or early CNM class. Same goes for early release; you’re only eligible if you have a sport or CNM class that starts before or at 4. The supposed reasoning behind this is so that all scholars continue to take challenging courses even as seniors. Administration doesn’t want seniors to have an easy last year and then not be prepared for college.

I rarely have homework and still feel I don’t have time for anything but school. I’ve had to drop out of two fun clubs this year because of how overwhelmed I am with my regular school work. ASK already doesn’t have a wide variety of electives, which motivates a lot of us to participate in dual enrollment, but how can we do classes through CNM on top of a full schedule? Let alone the fact that a lot of scholars have jobs, play sports, and participate in clubs. ASK already has a higher credit requirement for graduation, so if scholars are eligible for a free period, late arrival, early release, etc., they should be able to have that privilege considering they worked hard to have enough credits to do so.

Overall, I believe that if we are becoming academically alike to a public school (with busy work such as worksheets), we should have the basic freedoms that students at public schools have, like free periods and off campus lunch for high scholars. Four years ago I could honestly tell you that I would be proud to graduate from ASK because of all of the great learning opportunities and differences that aren’t offered at a public school. Now, with these new enforcements, I would be proud to graduate from anywhere but here.

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8 Comments on “Opinion: ASK Is Not the Place It Used to Be”

  1. Benjamin Bock Says:

    Thank you so much, Molly, for writing this article. You are echoing the voices of many of the scholars here, for we also feel that both the academic and social qualities of the ASK Academy have seen a downfall within the last four years. I hope that this article will insight some kind of change because the ASK Academy should be a place of high standards and high academic success, not based on state standard, but rather on the knowledge gained. Thank you for your voice, thank you for speaking the truth, we support you.

    – Ben Bock


  2. liberalslovetolie Says:

    Molly, I understand your frustrations, but there are a few things you are missing. Cell phones have become an issue because of people using the hotspots to bypass the school DNS filters and access porn. Porn is illegal and considered a federal offense to anyone under 18 years old in the U.S., and beyond that, if the person exposes it to another minor around them, they get registered as a sex offender. The school has no desire to run the risk of having students getting into legal trouble and ending up as sex offenders. Well, just block hotspots, you might say. You can’t. Jammers for those kind of things are against FCC guidelines (the same people who killed our net neutrality). As to off campus lunch, we are the ONLY high school in the entire state that offers off campus lunch to any grade. You are privileged to have it at all here. Go anywhere else, and NO ONE goes off campus. It was also changed with the new building to only seniors because the area around this school is not as safe, and not pedestrian friendly, so you really need to be old enough to have a car to even make it worth your while.
    Regarding early release and late arrival, I don’t know anything about that changing, but if it is, that seems like the administration is just out to frustrate scholars. That should not be happening. I don’t know what to tell you there.
    Regardless, I would encourage you to ask questions, and find out why things have to change. Sometimes, a few idiots cause issues for everyone. It sucks, but there are people in this world that make very, very poor choices, and we cannot expect the school to shoulder the liability. Our school is far freer than the others in Rio Rancho. Be proud of what we have.


  3. Jonah Molina Says:

    Molly, I really connected to your first statement. I used to be so proud to tell people I go to this charter school, all the freedom we have here is amazing and I appreciated the approach to academics. I found myself at the end of this year really dissapointed at how both the quality of academics and the environment in classes are well below adequate. I’ve truthfully said the last part to our administration as well, I would not be happy to leave here with an ASK diploma.

    I find it very frustrating how disgusting the school can be, literally. The classrooms are full of food and it smells, being awfully humid, on top of it it’s very loud. I come home from school, learning absolutely nothing because of the lack of maintaining a classroom. ASK states it’s project based, I don’t deny it, but what about the quality of it? Textbook work is important since it gives us the necessary content. But the projects are what give what we learned a little more livelyhood, and I’m able to appreciate and enjoy what I learn. Even in their AP program, there’s little to no difficulty and quality. I’ve had to learn everything myself at home by textbook and watching YouTube. I didn’t even get to go to a single basketball game, or prom because I had to commit myself to school. We give the 110% while we receive 20%. I started in 7th grade just like you, I admit that I enjoyed every single day of school. I can barely make it through the day without loathing or being exhausted. ASK is no longer a place for learning, just a place to waste a good 8 hours of your day.

    I know that I make the school sound completely terrible, I don’t deny that there are nice individuals and qualities that I appreciate. But I’m not here to just socialize, I’m here to also get a good education so that I can go to a really good school. When I’m out of here I’d love to work in diplomacy, I’d help if they were giving a more helping hand.

    I also find it irritating that late arrival and early release are no longer an option, I’ve hauled so much hard work, blood and sweat at this school. I’d love to get out early and relax a bit, yet someone like my brother who’s a senior gets only 4 classes everyday, sleeps in and leaves at like 2:00 pm everyday? I have to come home and study til 10:00 pm, let me rephrase that, do my teachers job and learn the material myself.

    Both the scholars and administration need to shape things up so that students like us can enjoy it here. Not boast about how good we are to the outside while we’re all suffering on the inside.


  4. Gabi Orr Says:

    I know I mentioned to you at school that I 100% agree with what you wrote, but I thought I would expand a bit on my thoughts. I was like you, and I started at this school about 5 years ago when they first had 8th grade, and I was so excited to be somewhere, where I wasn’t just being forced to do what every other public school would do. I can vividly remember bragging to all of my outside friends about all of the opportunities that I was given here. However, now as a senior, the only reason that I’ve stuck around, is because of the friends I’ve made.

    I’ve never been someone who really enjoyed school, but I always put my 110% effort into every project and every assignment, because I had high expectations for myself, but now I barely have the motivation to do the bare minimum. We keep getting promised that we won’t get busy work, but that’s all we seem to get. I have been taking a CNM class this year, and my assignments are due on Mondays, and I can only seem to find the time to do a whole weeks worth of work, on Sunday. I have to spend a lot of my extra time trying to figure out when to do projects and book work, along with keeping a job, and trying to enjoy my time as a senior before all my friends and I part ways, as well as trying to keep my work up to the high standard.

    I also feel as though the way discipline is handled, has honestly taken a turn for the worst. I understand that there has been incidents with misusing technology, and those should be taken care of accordingly, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else has to take the fall for it. I’m not going to lie, I get on social media during class, but I’ve had an above average GPA and I’ve never had any disciplinary issues in all of the years I’ve been here. The same thing can be said for so many kids, but we’re all being treated as if we’re like the select few who misuse a huge part of what makes our school different.

    I’ve been a part of the Dance Committee and the Scholar Government, for every year of high school, and this year was vastly different from every other. There was a severe lack of participation in every school event, even dances, and I feel like it is because, nobody wanted to be at school, even for a free hangout session.

    I feel for the upperclassmen next year, because I’ve had the opportunity to have early release, which makes it so much easier to get to work on time. With the 8-4 hour school days, it’s not fair to have full day classes as a junior or senior, especially if we are expected to also have full or even part time jobs in order to help ourselves succeed.

    Only a few days ago, I mentioned to my parents that if the 2018 class had to do another month of school to please the state, that I would think about transferring. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the managers and the administration, because I truly respect everyone here, It’s just that so much has changed, that It just leaves so many of us burnt out, and completely unmotivated.

    I know there are some things that are on the scholars, like the cleanliness of rooms, and dress code, but it feels as though sometimes we get blamed for issues that we don’t always have control of. Sometimes it seems like we’re expected to act like high standard young adults, but we don’t always get that kind of respect. At the beginning of the year, there was a school wide question on why the ASK attitude has seemed to diminish, but I think now at the end of the year, everyone is starting to figure out why.


  5. liberalslovetolie Says:

    Ok, honestly everyone else’s comments are better than mine, I admit. Hearing the other frustrations have allowed me to see them more. The early release/late arrival change is absolutely ridiculous. My cell phone point still stands, though. Honestly spending an hour and eight minutes in six classes a day is the biggest, most pointless time suck. Cleveland has 45 minute classes…


  6. liberalslovetolie Says:

    BUT we still get Fridays off, and the other school are inferior based on that fact alone, Imo.


  7. Madeline Peterson Says:

    I completely agree with your article; in the eighth grade when I came to this school, I had way more projects than now. This year as a Junior, I have had (roughly) 5 projects (not including simple powerpoints that can be made in just 2 days) and most of them are from one class. While we do have Fridays off, some scholars have late arrival/early release that they need for things that aren’t CNM or sports, some have siblings they need to take care of or a job to get to. While scholars do use phones in class, it is, for the most part, for hotspots when the internet is not working, not for other recreational things such as pornography or restricted websites. Even if there was a cellphone ban, scholars would find a way around it, as many others do at other schools.



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