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Sidelining gym course costs senior her diploma

Student took biology instead

BOW, N.H. -- A decision to take Advanced Placement biology instead of gym will cost a Bow High School senior her diploma, but it will not keep her from going to college in the fall.

Although Isabel Gottlieb is a good student and a trumpet player in the school band and holds varsity letters in three sports, she discovered last fall that she was one gym class shy of having enough credits to graduate next month.

She asked for a waiver, but the school would not budge, telling her that she had to drop a class and take gym.

''Why would I drop an AP biology class to take PE?" the 18-year-old said. ''It's just not on my priority list."

The missing credit was not caught by the school last spring when Gottlieb's schedule was set. The class in question is called BEST, or Building Essential Skills for Tomorrow, and is required for all Bow students to graduate.

At the Seattle high school Gottlieb attended before moving to Bow before her junior year, gym requirements often were waived for students in varsity sports. But Bow High is not willing to accept such waivers.

''Waivers vary from school to school, and they're not standardized at all," Principal George Edwards said.

Gottlieb added the class last year after the school told her she had to take it, but then dropped it when she found out it was too much on top of classes she was already taking, including two Advanced Placement classes and calculus.

Both Gottlieb and her mother said the school suggested dropping band, chorus, AP biology, or calculus. But she and her mother decided that sacrificing any of those would have diminished the quality of Gottlieb's education.

''I'm trying to get into college and someone isn't going to want to see someone drop an AP biology class a month into the year in order to pick up PE," Gottlieb said.

There will likely be no compromises in time for graduation. The class is not offered in the summer.

And it may not matter. Gottlieb already has been accepted to Trinity College in Hartford, where she plans to major in biology.

Trinity is aware of Gottlieb's situation and said that as long as she gets her General Educational Development, or GED, in time, there will not be a problem.

Gottlieb said that she already has taken the practice test and, once she hears back on that, will schedule a time to take the official version of the high school equivalency test.

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