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Costs are high for high school seniors

May 19, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION

by Joe Crocetta / staff photographer

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SeniorsCosts are high for high school seniors

The strains of "Pomp and Circumstance" may be music to the ears of a high school senior, but students say paying the piper is getting more expensive these days.

Local seniors say they are constantly shelling out money for school, paying between $100 and $800 for senior pictures, up to $60 for college applications and extra fees for classes.

There's the senior prom, costing about $100, a $20 cap and gown, and a yearbook that costs about $42.

Depending on how involved students are with their education, some can spend more than $2,000 a year, students said.

"We're trying to save for college and we're getting hit with all these things two or three months before we go," said North Hagerstown High School senior Kristin Sherwood.

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"It's expensive being a student," said Kimerly O'Kane, guidance counselor at North Hagerstown High School.

School officials have started looking at one of the issues involved - the cost of tests.

It costs $22.50 to take the Scholastic Assessment Test, and some students take the college entrance exam several times in an attempt to boost their score, O'Kane said.

Seniors can take "advanced placement" classes, and at the end of the upper-level courses, students can take a test for college credit. Although many students take the $67 test, sometimes up to three times for different courses, more would participate if the cost wasn't so high, students and school officials said.

The school system used to help pay for the cost for the advanced placement costs, but discontinued that last year, Sherwood said.

Board of Education member Andrew Humphreys said the board is considering ways of reducing the costs of all tests.

"I think we're looking at the whole picture," Humphreys said.

Other costs associated with the senior year include graduation invitations and name cards, which cost up to $200, a $40 athletic fee for each sport played, the traditional "senior week" trip to Ocean City, and other smaller fees such as a $10 parking permit.

Scholarships and financial aid are available to help offset the costs, but many times the assistance is only for very needy families, Sherwood said.

Sherwood, North High students Andrew Miller and Natalie Friton are fortunate because their parents pay many of the costs. Many students have to work to help pay the expenses, they said.

"It just seems like you're always asking for money," Miller said.

Not all school officials are convinced that the costs are a problem.

While some costs may have risen, South Hagerstown High School Principal Richard Martin said they seem to be in line with inflation.

Martin said advanced placement testing only affects about 10 percent of the student population.

"I don't think there's much surprise in this stuff," said Martin, who added the school sends out a bulletin to students each year explaining the costs of programs.

Advanced placement test costs in other Tri-State area schools also are in the $60 and $70 range.

Frank Aliveto, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Berkeley County, W.Va., schools, said getting college credit for $67 is a bargain.

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