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Basics about School Life in the US

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.”

Graduates after a graduation ceremony at Oxford University, England
Graduates. Photo.
Graduates, Charline Tetiyevsky
  • 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.
  • Up to 75 percent of students achieve a high school diploma, but this percentage is lower both for black (about 65 percent) and Hispanic (about 55 percent) students.
  • 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 caps and gowns and just like in the movies they throw up their caps at the end of the ceremony!

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