American pupils begin their school day with the Pledge of Allegiance and these words: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
- In contrast to Norwegian schools, where the students often have a classroom belonging to the class, in American schools it is the teachers who stay in the same classroom. The students are the ones who change rooms.
- The breaks between classes are short, except the lunch break. They may be perhaps as little as 4 minutes.
- Books and personal belongings are kept in lockers.
- Schools are often larger than Norwegian ones, and the same goes for class sizes. Classes can have up to forty students.
- Summer school is becoming increasingly common, especially for remedial study – catching up with the average – or for more rapid progression to finish ahead of time.
Most American children can legally leave school at sixteen, though they do not graduate from high school until the year of their 18th birthday.
Many American high schools provide a wide range of extra-curricular activities for students to participate in. These activities can include sports teams, music and theater groups, academic clubs, volunteer organizations, and interest-based clubs.
High school completion rates in the United States have been on the rise for decades, and today close to 90 % of all students achieve a high school diploma.
Graduation is the high point for most students. It is a formal ceremony involving passing out diplomas, and a speech given by the student at the top of his or her class (class valedictorian), i.e. the student with the best grades. Students wear gowns and graduation caps. The tassel on the cap is traditionally worn on the right side and then moved to the left at the end of the ceremony. After having moved the tassel, the students will throw their caps in the air. These acts symbolise the transition from student to graduate.