Small Miracle at West Islip Alternative School

Students pass Regents ahead of schedule



“Do we have to wait until June to take the Regents?” That question was asked by four students in Mr. Timpson’s alternative Global History class right after Christmas. A student may take a State Regents Exam at any time during the year, but whether they pass it or not, must still complete the entire course at their local school.  The next thought from the group was that if everyone in the class took the January, 2009 test and passed, that they could do nothing except “hang out” until the course concluded in June.  

Mr. Timpson explained that was not the case, but if that unlikely event came to pass the course would involve more cultural enrichment activities (discussion, historical film analysis, etc), rather than traditional activities. This idea has been proposed before by students with little sustained interest or follow-through. Yet, this time seemed a bit different.  

The questions persisted and students were adamant that they could do it. Timpson’s alternative class covers the ninth and tenth grade work assessed on the Regents exam. The class had finished the ninth grade work by Christmas but had not started the tenth grade portion of the course. However, most of the students had spent some previous time in tenth grade classes in regular school. 

Drawing on this base of experience and the students’ excitement, Timpson developed a “crash” plan of seven two-hour sessions to cover the major points of the tenth grade curriculum. He explained that in order for this to work that students had to attend all of these sessions.  It was further agreed that even if one student failed, that the course would have to be taught traditionally. 

With very few exceptions, students attended these crash sessions and showed up bleary eyed at 8:00am for the Global History Regents on January 30, 2009.  Although nervous and a bit tired, they started the process of completing the three hour exam. Although Mr. Timpson and his students had not seen the exam until that morning, the questions presented were very closely related to the first half year and crash course elements of the class material presented.  

Timpson was confident that all students had a good chance of passing the exam. If wrong, it would serve as good experience for a second chance at taking the exam in June. At approximately 11:00am, students had completed the exam and grading revealed that all students had indeed passed with grades ranging from the high 60’s to the high 80’s.------a small miracle! 

The following week, Timpson’s ecstatic group met and started class with a sparkling apple cider toast, with plastic champagne glasses, of course, followed by some snacks. It would have been difficult that day to find four happier students or a teacher that was more proud. The class then began to choose discussion topics and historical movie titles that they wanted to explore for the remainder of the year. Kudos to the student makers of the small miracle: Justin L., Mike H., Jimmy K. and Kevin D.