You get an exam! You get a bagel! Everyone gets exams and bagels!

Ashley Javier, Chief Reporter

Commack High School’s administration has recently announced that they are waiving  IB and AP exams fees, as well as providing free breakfast and lunch everyday for students during the 2021-2022 school year. 

In previous years, students had to pay about $119 for a subject IB exam and $96 for AP exams. With some students taking multiple exams per year, the costs often accumulate to hundreds of dollars. But, this year, each exam a student registered for before October 1, was free. 

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is a worldwide program consisting of a two-year education for students in high school, revolving around Higher Lever (HL) courses, Standard Level (SL) courses,  a Theory of Knowledge class, creativity/activity/service (CAS) projects, and sit-down IB subject exams. These exams cost around $119 per subject, but they are not “technically” exam fees with the way the program works. 

“The way that IB works is that it’s not considered an exam fee, it’s considered a subject fee,” said IB coordinator Dr. Stephanie O’Brien.

With official testing being canceled for the 2020-2021 school year, Internal Assessments (IAs) and Alternative Assessments (AAs) took place to provide students with their IB Grade, with the AAs being in-school projects or papers. 

“The reasons why the exams still cost money was because instead of now paying a moderator to grade [IB exam] papers, they pay a moderator to grade every single IA,” said O’Brien. 

The credits for each subject were accounted for using the IA and AA grades, without actually sitting down and taking the official IB exam. The waiving of the exams in 2020 and 2021 can be seen as a surprise benefit to those students who chose to take a more rigorous academic journey.   

“We have a pretty good enrollment, it stayed very steady […] There hasn’t been a big drop, and there really hasn’t been a big influx [in IB candidates],” said IB CAS director Joseph Zaidinski. 

IB/AP participation was independent of the COVID pandemic’s effect. Free testing was announced after the program’s enrollment period. 

“I think kids who were [going to] take IB/AP classes were [going to] do it whether the test fee was waived or not,” said Advanced Program Liaison and Assistant Principal Eric Biagi. 

Now, although the school is paying for the exams this year, it is uncertain whether this will become permanent. The free exams along with free breakfasts and lunches were made possible because of government funding. 

“As long as [the government is] providing COVID funding, we’re [going to] use it to help benefit the kids,” said Vice Principal Matthew Keltos. 

Each student is given one free breakfast and one free lunch, costing around $2.17 for a student lunch.

When a student punches in their ID number to take what qualifies as a lunch (portion of vegetable, grains, fruits etc.), and a breakfast (Rice Krispie Treats, fruit, milk, etc.), that meal is then charged to the government. This isn’t the same case for the staff/adult lunches. They still have to pay about $4.20 if they want to buy a school provided lunch. 

 “It’s free, but it’s not ‘free’ free, it’s COVID-free,” said Keltos. 

This isn’t the first time that the school has provided meals for students and families. During the beginning of the pandemic, lunches were distributed to those in the community who requested them.🔳