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Please note that this guide was created by a fellow student of Kerr. Below is his foreword to each of you guys. Please keep in mind that this guide should only be used to give you an idea of how Kerr functions. You will not know how Kerr works for you until you experience it yourself. Please read knowing that not everything in this guide will completely match up with your own experience. There have been several changes made to this guide to enable it to help students more completely. “So, hey there guys, thanks for taking the time to look through this guide I've been making. Below are just some things you might want to keep in mind while reading. Nothing in this guide should be taken as completely authoritative. Everything is subjective to any bias I may have, although I sincerely do try to be as objective as I possibly can about it all. In addition, I can't guarantee the accuracy of any of this information. I'm trying to be as objective as possible, but you'll probably find that some of the estimates given in here about some of the classes will be off from your actual experience. The information on the PAKs could become outdated at any moment, and may have changed since I took them. Still, I am hoping this will be something that you'll be able to refer to in order to help you jump start your year, and to plan your schedule to get the best advantage possible. So let's get this little shindig on!” ~Jay Meza
PAKs & Centers
Most of you may have already received a glimpse of Kerr when you had summer school here this year. For the rest of you, let’s begin with discussing the famous Kerr PAKs. Instead of giving you an assignment each day, each class gives you the list of assignments you have in big chunks called “PAK” (Personal Activity Kit). These PAKs are due a certain period of time after they're first assigned, ranging from 2 days or in some places up to 3 weeks. There is usually a test on the day the PAK is due as well. Each subject only gets one room, instead of multiple rooms with a teacher a pop in a standard school. This is why there is a Speech center, Math center, Science center, Social Studies center, etc. That means that all the Algebra 1, Algebra II, Pre-Cal, and Calculus students work in the same area. Because of the nature of the PAKs, and because there are few seminars, most teachers are fairly lenient towards what you use the time in class for as long as you are productive. It is possible to work on an art assignment in Math, a World Geography map inside of Biology, or a chemistry equation inside of World History without much more then a glance. Even in the most lenient centers though, it is only possible to work on a different subject if you do not have anything to be working on for the class you are presently in. However, there are some teachers that would prefer that you focus only on their work/assignments in their center. Laptops are generally allowed in class as long as they are being used for class work. Each center and teacher has a different policy for these things, so it's best to ask in advance what it is. In some centers, if you're done with your PAK early you are able to go and get the next PAK immediately afterwards. The system thus allows people to get ahead in classes to the point where the entire course can be finished in half the time, or one can stray behind and just turn everything in on time. Usually, if someone finishes their PAK early, teachers will allow them to go to other centers as long as they don't distract other people or skip school or do drugs or something ridiculous like that. But we all know YOU wouldn't go and do that right? Right? Right? The environment at Kerr encourages open thoughts and working at your own suitable pace. Most people are friendly and are willing to help, and competition only exists in the highest echelons of the school. Because of how small the school is, it should be unsurprising that most people know who most people are. This will not always be true, but generally even teachers are going to be able to remember almost every student's name. As a result, any information about someone tends to spread pretty fast, and so it's very important to exercise great caution when revealing any personal information.
Map of Kerr
Kerr is the smallest of all the Alief schools, and so the floor plan is pretty easy to remember. If you haven't figured it out yet, here is the map provided by Kerr Student Council.
Kerr’s Daily Schedule
You will get on a bus (duh) and get to school like anywhere else. You will probably arrive some time before school begins, depending on how fast your bus driver is and where you live. During the time you have before advisory starts, you can sit in an open center (centers usually open at 7 A.M.) or the library and do your homework. You can also go to the cafeteria for breakfast. A bell will go off at 7:15 to signal that you should head to advisory. Then advisory will begin at 7:20. After arriving, you will be in there for quite a while so make yourself comfortable! You will be in your assigned advisory all four years unless you can find some reason with the teachers to change it, so get used to it. Advisory is where you get important notices and papers to be signed. It is also where the TV will broadcast Kerr’s morning newscast. When advisory ends, first period begins. At the end of the period, the next begins, and then the next, and then the next for a total of four periods per day. Lunch is broken up into three sections: A, B, and C. The one you get is entirely dependent on which class you have 3rd period. Every day, students are allowed to stay after school until 4:30 to work on assignments and stay for organizations, except on Wednesdays. Late buses will be there to pick them up and then take them over to Taylor, where they will then depart to their respective middle and elementary schools to drop people off. You cannot use late buses without a late bus pass so if you stay after school and intend on getting home with a late bus, be sure to ask your organization to give you a bus pass. For more information on late buses (like what your bus number should be) ask the teachers. The time schedule of the average day is as follows: Regular Schedule Wednesday Schedule*** 7:10 ….......... 1st Warning Bell 7:15 ….......... 2nd Warning Bell 7:20 – 7:45 … Advisory 7:50 – 9:15 … 1st Period 9:20 – 10:45 .. 2nd Period 10:50 – 12:50 3rd Period 12:55 – 2:20 .. 4th Period 10:50 – 11:29 . A Lunch 11:30 – 12:09 . B Lunch 12:11 – 12:50.. C Lunch 7:15 …............Warning Bell 7:20 – 7:40 … Advisory 7:45 – 8:55 … 1st Period 9:00 – 10:10 .. 2nd Period 10:15 – 12:05 3rd Period 12:10 – 1:20 .. 4th Period 10:15 – 10:50 . A Lunch 10:52 – 11:27 . B Lunch 11:30 – 12:05 . C Lunch
*** Wednesday is a shorter day and so has a shorter schedule
Classes, Terms, & Semesters
In most classes, different things count for different percentages of your class grade. Tests are worth 50%, extra assignments around 35%, and the PAKs only 15%. This is usually how it is, but some classes vary (including World Geography and Spanish) so consult your respective teachers to find these so you can plan accordingly.
Most schools have 7 or 8 classes a day, each about half the time of the ones at Kerr. You probably had one of those during Middle School. There is only one semester and four terms. At Kerr, there is instead two semesters split into four terms. Each semester has two terms. Each term is 9 weeks so each semester is 18 weeks. Here’s a visual with a possible example of a class schedule for a typical freshmen Semester 1 (18 weeks) Term 1 (9 Weeks) Term 2 (9 Weeks) Pre-AP Geometry Pre-AP Geometry Pre-AP World Geo Pre-AP World Geo Art 1 Art 1 Keyboarding PE I Semester 2 (18 weeks) Term 3 (9 Weeks) Term 4 (9 Weeks) Pre-AP Alegbra II Pre-AP Algebra II Pre-AP English I Pre-AP English I Pre-AP Biology I Pre-AP Biology I Pre-AP Spanish II Pre-AP Spanish II
Notice how at Kerr, this student is able to double up in her math classes and get ahead. This is perfectly possible as long as the student is willing to put in extra effort. If you want to get ahead in high school and maybe graduate early, talk to your counselor about “doubling up” on subjects. Notice how this student is also taking Keyboarding one term and PE I one term. It’s because these classes are “term classes”. All her other classes take an entire semester. Usually, subject classes take two terms or more. When you first start taking classes, IT WILL FEEL LIKE THE CLASSES ARE LONG. I have not met anyone who did not feel this way. However, it’s okay because around the 2nd week, you will grow accustomed to it and the days will pass by much more quickly. Heck, by your sophomore year, you might even feel the classes aren't long enough due to your work. “I have 3 hours to finish” will someday seem short. This next note is actually pretty important: I HIGHLY RECOMMEND going to the front office and asking about how to receive grades online. I never applied for the process myself, but basically it is what it sounds like: instead of having to wait for your report cards or having to always check with the teacher, you will get the grade of your assignment as soon as the teacher puts it into the system through your email. In addition, you can view your previous TAKS scores, your behavior records, and so much more. This is extremely useful because then you know which classes you need to focus on, and which types of grades (major, minor, other) you should be focusing on to raise your average. And this way, if you see grades in the system that are contradictory to what you thought you had received on that assignment, you can clear up any misconceptions with your teachers.
Before we begin discussing the different classes we have here at Kerr, there is one important rule for every single one of us.
DO NOT CHEAT.
Cheating has severe consequences. If one teacher catches you teaching, trust me, the whole school will know about it. It is a small school, after all. After that, every teacher will lose trust in you. Not to mention many privileges granted to students over time will be taken away from you before you even get the chance to ask for them because of your one instance of cheating. There are a lot of different classes you're going to be taking this year, and so you're going to want to be prepared for each one. The way each center and class will handle PAKs varies, and so you're going to want to understand as much as you can beforehand. Here are some of the
prominent ones that you will want to know about, and will most likely have to deal with as freshmen. Most of these factors are self-explanatory. Everything is an estimate and should not be taken as authoritative. “PAK distance” refers to the time usually given to complete each PAK before the next one is given. Please keep in mind that I am basing most of these classes off of my own experiences so again, please know your experience may be very different from my own. World Geography Social Studies Center PAK Length: Medium PAK Distance: 1.5 Weeks Teachers: Mrs. Evans, Mr. Levine, and Mr. Gendron Pre-AP Version: Extra work is included in the Pre-AP version, but it is not significantly harder World Geography is one of the more intensive courses in Kerr, filled with lots of coloring and drawing. It has the most number of presentations out of any class to date, including the Geomorphology Project, Highway to Africa, and Religions of Asia, each done for a major grade. People generally tend to say that your stuff may be misplaced. To be quite frank, the loss of stuff IS NOT FREQUENT (in fact it’s quite rare, but it happens); however, you should TALK TO YOUR TEACHER IMMEDIATELY AND NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT IT. If you communicate well with your teacher, you can make proper negotiations to salvage the grade. Teachers are more lenient about how you use your class time in this center. Algebra/Algebra II/Geometry Math Center PAK Length: Long PAK Distance: 1.5 Weeks Teachers: Mrs. Koshkin, Mrs. Woods, Mrs. Flores, Mrs. Sanchez, and Mrs. Mac Pre-AP Version: Not significantly harder (a few extra problems) Your experience inside of math will be completely dependent on how good you are at it and how difficult the subject you're learning about is. Imaginary numbers are harder then improper fractions after all. The PAKs are probably the longest of all subjects, filled with workbook pages and textbook assignments. The Pre-AP version only adds on a couple more worksheets and a few more problems, so you may want to consider taking it. Tests are usually taken in the testing center, although the center is put on silence on Friday's as a study hall to allow for in-class testing. On Fridays, everyone has assigned seats that the teachers will tell you about. Teachers only like to see you working on math, and you will get berated if you try to work on something else. Biology Science Center PAK Length: Medium PAK Distance: 1 week Teachers: Dr. Chen, Mrs. Caro, Mrs. Valdez Pre-AP Version: Not significantly harder (a few extra problems and one extra lab) Biology is one of the easier classes, as long as you don't procrastinate with turning in PAKs and can learn the material quickly. The PAKs are mostly workbook assignments with a couple of textbook questions. The Pre-AP version only tacks on a couple of extra problems and gives you fewer points per question on the test. Speaking of the tests, they are usually made up of 5 shortanswer responses and 40 questions. It is possible to get over 100 points on them. Teachers are fairly lenient to what you do with the time as long as your work is finished.
English I English Center PAK Length: Medium PAK Distance: 3 weeks Teachers: Mrs. Volkova, Mrs. Nys Pre-AP Version: Significantly harder English is unique in that its work schedule follows that more akin to a traditional school. Assignments are due regularly, and the PAKs are more of informative guides then assignment givers. Still, even though it doesn't assign a lot, the ones it does give are long. English is also unique in that the Pre-AP PAKs are not just minor variations of the regular ones, but entirely different assignments and books, making it a different experience. This is of course subjective: the general trend is that while regular PAKs are longer then Pre-AP ones, they are also much simpler. The English Center has no tolerance for people doing other work in-class other than English assignments. Physical Education Physical Education Center PAK Length: Short PAK Distance: 1 week Teachers: Coach Diaz and Coach Bailey PE at Kerr is unique. Not because of the equipment or teacher, but because you actually work out. I know, try to contain your shock (WE ALSO HAVE SKINNY COACHES, UNLIKE THE OTHER SCHOOLS). Don't try to lie on the cardio sheets – they check the heart-rate watches when inputting grades. PAKs are mostly role memorization and blatant book-copying, so they're nothing special. Later PE classes have no PAKs, or at least shorter ones. If there is one piece of advice I have to give for PE, it is to try your hardest. If you do, you will get significantly stronger since you will work out. You have to leave all your books in the locker rooms, so you can't work on anything inside of PE. Make sure to change out into gym clothes every day or your PE grade will suffer. If you do not keep up with your Cardio workouts or if the coaches see you not doing anything for too long, too often, they will deduct points from your PE grade. This means that though PE is easy, don’t take it too lightly or you might fail the class. There have been people who have failed PE before do you really want to be on that list? Communication Applications Speech Center PAK Length: Medium PAK Distance: 1.5 weeks Teachers: Mr. Davis Communication Applications have daily work such as examining a quote. After you examine the quote, you have to free-write about the context, its meanings, how it relates to your life and more. Mr. Davis is generally very flexible with grading this class. An opportunity to dress up for this class is during the PAK that teaches you about interviews. Generally, this class is fairly easy. Web Mastering Computer Lab No PAKs. Teachers: Mr. Bolting Web Mastering will teach you how to design your own website and towards the end create your own animation. You’ll learn how to make moving cars, bouncing balls, moving people and much more. There is no actual PAK for this class; however, you’ll be following a textbook that guides you throughout the course. At the end of each chapter in the textbook, you’ll be tested on it with
multiple choice questions and true/false questions. This class will give you your necessary technology credit. The tests are fairly easy as long as you have been following the textbook. Keyboarding Business Center Pak Length: Easy PAK Distance: 1 week Teachers: Ms. Curry This class will help teach you how to type properly, and for those of you who already know how, it will improve the speed of your typing. Towards the end, it’ll teach you how to type proper business letters and flyers. This is a helpful class for beginner typists with PAK work going along with the typing program. Tests are only easy when one studies the rules and information from the class well. This class will only give you your partial technology credit though. Try not to lose any PAKs you get for classes like this in the Business Center because in order to get the next PAK, you have to turn in your previous one. Spanish I/Spanish II Foreign Language Center PAK Length: Long PAK Distance: 2 weeks Teachers: Mrs. Zapata, Mrs. Mannes, Ms. Caetta, Spanish is a lot like math in that it is a lot of work. It is unlike math in that most of the work is much easier in comparison. It has a huge amount of textbook assignments and workbook pages in each PAK, with a fairly difficult test at the time you have to turn it in. Even if you have a hard time with the PAKs, don't fret too much: each PAK comes with 3 major-grade assignments, two of which are called 'conversation activities' and are relatively easy to do. They are usually referred as “CA”. Spanish teachers are extremely lenient about what you work on in class, as long as you're not too far behind or using up their computers during busy hours. French Business Center PAK Length: Medium PAK Distance: 1-3 weeks Teachers: Mr. Schowalter French is a fun and easy language to learn. The class will be a breeze for you if you just do your textbook work. We have to give oral exams every once in a while, but you won’t fail the class if you can't pronounce a word. The teacher gives one seminar for each PAK, and if you listen, the seminars will help you. It is really easy to get ahead in French, so if you want to finish early, it is highly possible. There isn't necessarily a lot of work, but understanding the language is crucial. You cannot do work from other classes unless you and the teacher have come to the understanding that you have finished your French work. The only way to fail this class is by not working at all. Orchestra/Band/Choir Band Hall No PAKs. Teachers: Mr. Rodriquez and There are no PAKs within any of the music classes. You will still need to take some kind of class for a fine-arts credit though, and these are worthy of consideration. The teachers are passionate about their music and will push you to play better each day. Determination and perseverance will get you far in this class.
Theater I Black Box PAK Length: Medium PAK Distance: 1-2 weeks Teachers: Mrs. Ryan Expect to begin each class with a famous theater game building up your energy and spirit for the rest of the class period. Mrs. Ryan will make your experience of theater enjoyable with her supportive and creative ways of teaching. She’ll show you how to project your voice, how to bring a character to life, how to perfect the art of performing, and much more. The PAKs are generally easy enough as long as you follow along in class.
Useful Skills Accessing Printers
You may notice that accessing the printers of the school is kind of an annoying ordeal if it's not already set and you have to get someone else to do it. There is a very quick way to set them up however. 1. Open up the start menu and click on “run” 2. Type in \\khs-mdf0-as01 (Those are zeroes) This will open up the directory of printers where every printer in the school can be found. 3. Double click on the printer you want, and then a new dialog box will open up. The printer you want will usually be labeled with the center name. If not, ask a teacher which printer you should select. And that's it! The printer is now permanently set up and can now be selected from the list when you try and print a document. You can close out the dialog box, as it only shows you the printer status and print jobs. Students are to print only papers regarding the specific subjects taught in a particular center. For instance do not print an English essay in the science or history center. You'll also hear the term “Student Commons” thrown around quite a lot. This is just a main directory that teachers are able to put files for all students to access. If you open up “My Computer”, it's at the spot where the C drive and flash drive are both displayed. It looks kind of like a metal disc with tubes come out, and says “Student Common” on it.
How to Avoid Procrastination
“To put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done” is the definition good 'ol Merriam Webster gives to us. By the time you leave Kerr, you will have heard this term being thrown around more times than a fairybull at a ninja's slumber party invaded by pirates while dinosaurs in F-40's attack with missile attack sharks. Which is to say, a lot. It is best if you learn how to get rid of the habit NOW. Either that, or get used to occasionally staying up at 4:00 AM working on an assignment due in 4 hours. Procrastination leads to all-
nighters, and all-nighters screw up your sleeping schedule as soon as you do it one time. You can't fix it until you get a chance to sleep in, but if you're procrastinating chances are you have too much work to do to be able to do that. This means, do not pull an all-nighter even once, otherwise you risk the chance of ruining your sleeping habits and becoming a night-based vampire for the rest of the year. In addition, it's also very dangerous, especially if you're working on team projects. You could really piss off your teammates if you don't curb the habit ASAP. Here are some tips to help you get started on your work.
Set goals for yourself. Tell yourself "Okay, I'm going to get this amount of work done by x time". The smaller the goals and the more reasonable the time limits, the better. This is much simpler then saying "Okay, I'm going to have this entire PAK full of complicated assignments and tedious work done in three days", because you give yourself the illusion of having more time then you do. Limit down your distractions. If the internet provides too many things to do, find an internet/site blocker so you can focus on working. Is it a game? Try working on another computer or temporarily uninstalling it even. If that's too much, hide the game into some deep dark part of your computer where you have to jump through several hoops and files just to reach it. Get someone else to moderate your behavior and make sure you're not playing it instead. Always throw in a little bit of interesting stuff with any kind of 'dull' thing you are about to do. Enjoy drawing? Well save it for last and get the tedious writing out of the way first so you can enjoy your time at the end. Prefer the writing instead? Do the drawing chores first and then get your chance to write up some wickedly effective prose as a treat for your dedication. Remember: you're going to be more inclined to work if you have something to look forward to at the end of each task, or during a task itself! Push yourself to at least begin something. This I think is easily the most effective way at fighting the disease. Even if a task looks hard or boring, give yourself the leisure of working just FIVE MINUTES on it before calling it quits out of boredom. Sometimes, the hardest part is getting started: if you can get those 5 minutes in on time, you'll find yourself having done 30 minutes of work and still not feeling ready to call it a day. Think of how cool finishing early will be. You won't have to work, can watch other people, get to talk, and all without the stress. Keep this in mind, think of it all the time as you work and use it to motivate you forward. Don't work at busy times of the day! There will likely be several distractions which will inhibit your work. Multitasking will only slow down your progress to a crawl. Give yourself small little breaks after lots of work. If you've been just busy for 45 minutes, give yourself a 10 minute break. Remember to not procrastinate getting back to work though! Motivation! In order to prevent yourself from procrastinating, I suggest you find a way to motivate yourself to work. For example, if you are a competitive person, find a friend who is willing to compete with you on assignments, PAKS, or heck, maybe an entire class and see who can finish the fastest and retain the highest grade. This is one of those big ones: especially if you can put some kind of really big tangible reward at the end for the winner! I highly recommend it, because competition is able to push people's dedication to their limit.
Power off all the technology! Be honest with yourself: how much do you REALLY need to use the computer when you're working? Chances are, not as much as you think. Unplug it, and throw your phone under a pillow for good measure. If you do need to use the computer and can't risk unplugging it, then work in a different room, and only go to it when you have to search something important up, and get back to work afterwards! This is where willpower comes in! Create a linear calendar. This one might seem a bit weird, but it's the power of OCD compulsions. Find a spare calendar that nobody will mind you marking. Get a brightcolored pack of sticky notes, or even a really nice highlighter works. Cut up the calendar and form it into a straight line, and put it somewhere where you will see it. Cut off the weekends. Every time you complete ALL the work you have (not just part of it), color/stick that day of the calendar. Continue this process every day. For those who care about linear organization, this will serve as a great incentive to keep working: if you don't finish it all, the calendar will have a 'break' in it which will look real nasty.
Hopefully, this will help you to be able to not become victim to the countless hordes of nocturnal students who crawl through Facebook each night complaining about their homework! That would be really sad indeed!
Clubs and Organizations
There are a lot of organizations and clubs within the school, and you're able to join many at the same time, so don't feel as if you're confined to only a specific one! The major ones are most definitely band, orchestra, choir, Class clubs, FBLA, Speech and Debate, Student Council, National Honor Society, and Theater. There are still quite a lot of other ones too though, including some funs one. I am sorry to say that there is simply not enough room inside of this thing to give an analysis of each one, nor have I been in enough of them to even tell you how they are! Still, here is a good list of most of them. Anime Club Band Book Club Choir Christian Fellowship Class of 2011/12/13/14 Cultural Club Engineering Club FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) French Club Gamers Club Guitar Club Kerr Dance Society Knitting Club Muslim Student Association National Art Honor Society National Honor Society Newspaper/Yearbook Orchestra Piano Club Speech and Debate Student Council Students for Humanity Table Tennis Club Thinkers Club Writing Club
So pick and choose! You've got quite a variety of things to try. Don't be afraid to try out new things! You never know what stuff you might actually enjoy doing! In order to know when these clubs are meeting and when their RUSH meetings are, please watch for the morning announcements each morning during advisory. In addition, if you keep an eye on the TV throughout the day, you’ll be able to see some slides that give you the information you need.
For anyone who’s wondering what a RUSH meeting is, this just means the introductory meeting that clubs host to give more information about their club, what they do, and to convince you to join.
We truly hope that this guide has helped you feel more at ease with Kerr. You’re in high school now, so the training wheels are off. Don’t be afraid, nothing is hard when you put your mind to it. Trust us that before long, you won’t even need this guide anymore. You’ll be out building stronger friendships with everyone, creating masterpieces, discovering your individuality, and having the time of your life. It’s okay to make mistakes, in fact, make tons of them. Just never, ever forget to learn from them. We hope that as you go through your changes in high school, you don’t forget to stay yourself. This is as far as this guide can take you. If you have more questions, look up. See that senior, junior, or sophomore over there? Don’t be afraid to ask, they don’t bite. Ask a sophomore about their freshmen year. Ask a junior about SATs and ACTs. Ask a senior about college and AP exams. Ask, ask, ask. Good luck to each and every one of you. Sincerely,
Kerr High School Student Council & National Honor Society
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