This week marked the beginning of the third marking period at Amity Regional High School, and it follows the seemingly short and hectic second one. A slew of holiday vacations, including the Thanksgiving and winter breaks and Veterans Day, two snow days, and a handful of two hour delays all made the second marking period pressed for time and very fragmented.

The situation was not helped by the fact that four days had to be set aside for the midterm exams, which were already planned to be given a week earlier than in previous years.

But now high school students are moving on to the second half of the year, a fresh beginning. Starting on Wednesday the 23rd (as Tuesday was the last day of midterms, pushed back by a snow day), some students started brand-new half-year classes, and others plowed into the meat of their full year courses.

Seniors are only a few months away from graduation, freshmen from surviving their first year.

The third marking period kicked off with a lot of planning, especially for the junior class. Course selection guides were handed out last week, and juniors are now going through the period of deciding which classes are the most beneficial to them and their futures.

The course selection for senior year has significantly more range than in the three previous years of high school. English, history, math, and science classes have been laid out for students in the past, but as seniors they can pick from a diverse group of 10 half-year English courses, 10 history courses (with a mix of half and full year options), and slew of science, math, foreign language, and elective courses, should they choose to take them (the only subject that needs to be taken all four years is English).

Both juniors and their parents were given a tutorial on the points that they should keep in mind when dealing with the next few months.

Last Thursday, juniors met with their guidance counselors when they discussed topics such as the standardized tests (SAT and ACT) and when to take them, useful Web sites, like CollegeBoard.com and Naviance, and the options open to them in the future.

Over 200 parents of juniors received similar information in a power-point presentation at Junior Planning Night

Another informational session held for sophomores, juniors, and their parents was AP Planning Night, which took place this past Wednesday.

This event was geared toward teaching students and parents about the Advanced Placement Program at Amity.

It provided an outline of the curriculum and AP Tests, which could be used to qualify for college credit.

Students who recently completed the AP Program and are now attending colleges provided a more personal insight into what it is like to be an AP student.

With half a school year left, Amity is already looking ahead and planning for the future.

The administration wants its students to be as prepared as possible to take on their years of high school and the college years that will follow.

The many opportunities given to the students and their parents to prepare for what lies ahead puts everyone involved a step ahead.

Erin Beaulieu is a student at Amity High School.