School in the USA

School in the USA is quite different when compared to school in Germany.
All the students go to the same kind of school. That’s the reason why the American schools are so huge. All the kids from a certain area attend the same school. They aren’t divided into higher and lower skill levels like in Germany (Hauptschule; Realschule; Gymnasium). The normal "school career" looks like that: Elementary School - -> Middle School - -> High School. You can also choose to attend a private school. You have to pay a lot of money there, but you are supposed to get a better education. Only rich people can afford this.
Students start their school life at the age of 6 with four years of elementary school, which they finish after 4th grade. They attend middle school for four more years and they all finally attend high school. They've got only 12 grades, which means that American students normally finish school at the age of 18. After high school many students go to college. Most of the students already try to figure out which college they want to go to lateron at the beginning of 12th grade. Going to college is very expensive. If you pick a pretty good one you have to pay about $10 000 - $15 000 per year, but there are also some colleges where you have to pay up to $25 000 a year or even more.
In the USA school is more specific than in Germany. You can elect some of your subjects at the beginning of 9th grade. From grade to grade the number of subjects is increasing. There are electives and requirements. In 12th grade you can elect most of your subjects according to your interests. You have just got to consider that you choose a subject from each section, e.g. a language, a science and a kind of math (trigonometry, algebra or calculus). That means that every student has got a different schedule. The single days of the week are counted over from A to F. Although there are only five schooldays a week, they have a 6 - day - rhythm. You don’t say that today you’ve got a Monday, you say today is an A - day, but a Monday isn’t always an A - day. You keep counting: The first Monday of the schoolyear = A - day, Tuesday = B - day, Wednesday = C - day, Thursday = D - day, Friday = E - day, the second Monday is an F - day then. If e.g. Tuesday is a holiday, Wednesday is the next A - day.
You’ve got the same schedule every day. But there are some subjects you’ve got only on two of the six days, e.g. sports, chorus, health... You have e.g. sports on A - and D - days and on B -, C -, E - and on F - days you’ve got study hall. That means you have to go to the cafeteria, where you have to work quietly. Talking is strictly forbidden. There are normally three persons who check your attendance. They’ve got a list of all the students who are supposed to be there. Skipping a study hall period doesn’t work! You can do your homework or simply relax a bit, but you have to sit at a certain table and you aren’t allowed to change your seat and sit next to your friend!
The breaks between classes are extremely short. You’ve got only three minutes time to "run" to your next room. The hallways are very crowded.Therefore you are always in a hurry! Going to the bathroom doesn’t work in the breaks. Either you have to ask your teacher if you can go there or you are late for class and that could mean detention! All the punishments are very hard in American schools and there are soooooo many rules to keep!

The schoolday at Perkiomen Valley High School

Most of the students come by bus. These buses are big and yellow and there is room for about 50 students. But some lines are totally overcrowded. There can easily be more than 60 students in a bus. You don’t have to pay anything for the ride. Schoolbuses are free. From 11th grade on, when students have turned 16, many of them drive to school with their own car. There is a big parking lot next to the school. School starts at 7.55. At that time you have to be in your homeroom. This "period" lasts 10 minutes. In the homeroom you are told the latest news about e.g. sports, how the schoolteams played, which trips you can participate in. Class matters are also talked about! Sometimes there is an extended homeroom, which lasts 30 minutes. Up to lunch time all the following periods are shortened then. This always happens at the beginning of the schoolyear. After the homeroom your first actual period starts. Every day you’ve got the same schedule, except for the few special subjects. The students have lunch at school. The first lunch period is the 4th period. That means that the first group of students have lunch at 10.30. *funny* .The last lunch period is the 7th period. Students are allotted to the four lunch periods, so that none of them is really overcrowded. School ends at 2.30 pm after 10 periods. If you want to catch the bus after school you have to hurry up. They leave about 5 minutes after school has ended. Many students stay at school to participate in some sports activities like football, soccer, fieldhockey, cross country, golf, basketball, tennis.
Or they just go to the weight room. Others leave school directly for work. Many students have a job. Practice normally ends at 5.00 pm. There is a bus called activity - bus which takes all the students back to their busstops, homes or towns. The bus covers a very long distance. If you can get off at the beginning of the line you are lucky. The last students arrive back home at only around 6.45 pm. Many parents pick up their children, as they don’t want them to get back home so late. A lot of homework has to be done after school. I guess it takes an average of about two hours a day.

All in all, the American schoolday is very long and exhausting with a strict discipline and lots of rules.

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