2022-23 school year brings new changes


Austin Ikard

HEADED THROUGH THE HALLS: With less than two weeks left of school Bowie students walk to their second period classes after first lunch. The last day of school will be next on Friday May, 27. 2022 with the 3rd and 4th period finals.

Lauren Wright, News Editor

The 2021-2022 school year is almost over, and students and staff look forward to the next school year while seniors are ready to move onto their next chapter. This school year was the first year back in person after a year of online school because of COVID-19, many students have never had a first year in-person at Bowie until this year.

This school year was the first year that the parking garage was fully used by students and staff; the construction of the athletic building was also completed and fully functional for students. This year was also the first year that a new grading period was implemented at Bowie and the weight of finals has changed from 25% to 20%.   

“The new grading period I think [is the biggest change from this year], we have made that transition pretty well,” principal Mark Robinson said. “We have added two progress reports in there because we want to make sure that we are continuing to give feedback every three weeks, partly as required by UIL but also we want to lock in those good grades when you have them.”

At the beginning of this school year every student, staff, and visitors of Austin Independent School District (AISD) were required to wear a mask at all times while at school. Now, everyone is given the option of whether or not to wear a mask because the number of COVID-19 cases has gone down.   

“I think that wearing masks was a bit of a pain because I couldn’t fully understand my surroundings and I had a hard time communicating in some of my classes where speaking is a major part,” freshman Ryan Cormier said. “I am glad we don’t have to wear them anymore because not only is COVID going down but we can communicate more”

Due to budget issues, almost 600 employees have either been reassigned, resigned, not had their position retained, or have retired. There are over 500 jobs listed on the AISD hiring website. On Thursday, May 19 Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde informed the community that she has been named as the lone finalist for the same position in Dallas ISD. In 21 days, she can officially be hired and will leave AISD after just two years. Overall, the district is still working to reduce the budget by $67 million.

“I think it’s really sad because there are a lot of great teachers who work at Bowie who I am sad are choosing to leave or have to leave,” junior Sienna Szczesny said. “I think it will be harder to really get to know your teacher and ask for help when you need it when there is going to be that many people in each class.”

The pandemic has disrupted education for the past three years, and has made the past three years very different. Seniors were the only students on campus this year who had completed a full year of high school prior to this year.   

“I am excited for construction to be over, it has been a five-year bond project since the bond passed in 2017. Even before the construction began there was a lot of planning that went into [it],” Robinson said. “I am also encouraged by the hope that we may get to have a semi normal in terms of what we defined as normal before the pandemic.”

According to AISD’s Bond and Construction Projects’ website the Bowie fine arts facility is expected to finish construction by June 2022, it is currently 55% completed. The construction will give modernization to the existing facility and renovations to include fine arts and increased capacity.

“I think that the new fine arts building is going to be really beneficial for a lot of different programs at Bowie including theater and dance and any other program that gets to use the theater at any point during the year,” junior Caroline Cullinane said. “It’s a new space that will be fully functional and will be useful to a lot of programs.”

This summer all of the construction at Bowie is scheduled to finish and next year Bowie will not be under construction. Next year students will have access to all of the new facilities that are being built: the fine arts facility, the parking garage, and the athletics building.         

“I am glad that the construction will be done by the beginning of next year. I will be able to use the bathroom during lunch and people can go to the bathroom during shows in the theater,” Cormier said. “I also like that this year we were able to start using the athletic building because it allows us to host more events and I like the tennis courts on top of the parking garage.”

There are many new classes coming to Bowie for the 2022-2023 school year. Some of the new classes include mental health and counseling, multi-variable calculus, ethnic studies, and among others.

“I think the new classes coming to Bowie will be very beneficial to the students because it will offer Bowie students a chance to learn about new things and find new passions,” Szczesny said. “Next year I am taking Multi-variable Calculus which is a new class and its the class following Calculus BC.”

Many of the new electives that are coming next year are extensions of current pathways in the career and technical education (CTE) programs that started a couple of years ago at Bowie. There are also some new classes that are for core classes and electives that are not a part of CTE.    

“We wanted students to be able to participate in those pathways all the way through their senior year. We [also] wanted to offer some more updated course offerings to the jobs that students are now able to get after high school and jobs that we see reflected in the Austin economy,” Robinson said. “I think that we are always wanting to make sure that we are serving our students in the things they are interested in.”

Although Cormier’s first year of high school was not what a normal year would look like, he is optimistic about what his future years in high school will look like. Next year, there are currently no plans to change what is happening with mask usage, and as long as COVID-19 cases stay low the hope is school will begin more normally.

We are finally going to have a stage that everyone can fit on and a band hall and a dance hall, performance gym that meet our needs as a campus.

— Mark Robinson, Bowie Principal

“I am looking forward to coming back to school next year because it will be my first normal year of high school,” Cormier said. “This year I started school and we were all wearing masks and next year I hope that we don’t have to wear masks and I am hopeful that next year’s freshmen will get four normal years.”

The 2022-2023 school year is scheduled to start on Aug. 15, 2022. With the final day of school on May 15, 2023.

In December, AISD proposed a seven-period schedule; where students would go to seven classes and teachers would teach six of them. But, after hearing feedback from families and staff AISD decided to keep the eight-period schedule.

“I am really glad that we didn’t have to switch to the seven period schedule,” Szczesny said. “Having to get rid of one of my classes would have been really stressful.”

Next year could be Cullinane’s first year at Bowie that she will get to experience a full year without COVID-19 changing any of it. She looks forward to next year and is enthusiastic to what it could hold for her future.

“I am excited to come back senior year because I will not have to stress about applying to colleges,” Cullinane said. “I will get to focus on enjoying my classes and spending time with my friends.”