High School Too Easy?

Updated on January 23, 2014
S.E. asks from Deerfield, IL
29 answers

My daughter is a freshman at a high performing HS in Illinois. She is not gifted and is an average student...I thought. In her first semester in HS she may be getting A's with one or two B's (finals are this week). Great! But she does not have as much homework as I thought she would. She does her math homework at school - Algebra I - she apparently needs no help. Physics - homework completed at school too. I have been told that courses get more difficult in the upper grades and she is considering taking an honors or advanced placement courses. My daughter is not involved in sports and she's new to the area and while she has friends I don't think she in with a group - so she spends her time doing homework at school. So is HS difficult or are other kids spending more time socializing and doing sports? I expected her to be doing homework until 10pm every night the way some people talk. To my daughter's credit she is very hard working and thorough. I guess I expected an A grade to require a lot of work and homework. How are your kids doing in HS?

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all the great responses. My daughter's school has 1800 students and she is taking French II, Algebra I, PE, Physics, and a combined English and Social Studies course. Her French teacher recommended her to Honors French within 2 months of being in her current class. The teacher felt a couple of the students, including my daughter, were doing so well that it was making the other students feel bad. But my daughter didn't want to reconfigure her schedule mid-stream. My daughter has always been exceptionally independent in school and I've never had to monitor her schoolwork. Thank you for the clarification about Honors and AP being the normal track for college bound students.

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answers from Tampa on

Some teachers have realized that Homework isn't all it is cracked up to be and not necessarily a benefit to students. Meaning you don't need to do pages upon pages of homework when just a few questions/problems are enough.

My daughter does most of her work in her classes or lunch which frees up her time for friends and other things.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My son (HS Freshman) is not A student/honors material but if you have a bright kid in non-honors classes, there may not be a huge load of work. My older one was more of an academic achiever, but not in honors classes freshman year, did very well, didn't really have the huge amount of work til junior year, when she started with all honors math and AP sciences. Harder classes meant not automatic A's, but they are what colleges are looking for, and she got into every college that she applied to.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

It really depends on the student. Some students struggle and have to dedicate more time at home to their school work, for others school busy work is easy and they tend to complete it quickly. It does not mean that one student is more intelligent then the other, simply that one is better at busy work. I was like that, school was really easy for me, and I rarely had work to take home. My husband on the other hand really struggled in school. I would say we are equally as smart, if anything he is smarter then myself, busy school work was always just harder for him. Nothing to worry about, she is one of the lucky ones.

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answers from Dallas on

I pick up from your post that she is breezing through with little to no effort. That tells me she is possibly in the wrong classes if this is the case.

FIRST.... maybe she has good time management skills! My daughter took advantage of the time that was given to her in class to work on projects, homework, etc.

SECOND... If she is not taking higher level courses to challenge her, then she needs to. My daughter did well in HS, took AP courses, Captain of the Varsity cheer squad and graduated with honors.

The great thing about the AP courses is that they count as college credit IF you score well enough on the AP exam. My daughter bypassed a couple of basic courses for her Freshman year in college due to her good AP scores. This means, she ended up with at least 6 hours of credit when she started college in the fall as a freshman. That is a HUGE boost and enables her to move forward in college.

THIRD... your daughter needs to be involved in something extra curricular. This will not only help with socialization and friends but will help her when it comes to college admissions. Colleges look for good students academically but also students who are involved and well rounded.

This is the time your daughter should be focused on college with grades and activities that will help her get into a good college. These 4 yrs are very important so utilize everything you can to help her move forward positively.

Best wishes...

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

There's actually evidence that shows that homework does not equal learning.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

It depends on the school.

Excessive homework is not the measure of a good school. If you want to be sure your daughter is being challenged, have her enroll in honors or AP classes.

p.s. Why the heck should a growing child be up until 10:00 p.m. doing busywork? Would you like to come home from a long day at work and be faced with three additional hours of work? 7:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.?? Really??

I'm so sick of the policy of giving excess work to young people.

p.p.s. - My kids were A students. They took honors and AP classes. So far, in their early 20's, they are proving to be successful individuals. Even in honors classes, they didn't have 3 hours of homework every night. Sometimes they were busier than others, but I didn't feel they were overburdened with work. And they learned a lot in high school.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

School Counselor advice here :)
If she is rolling along very easily with almost all A's in 9th grade, she needs to up the rigor next year. Add in some Honors level courses (at least 1, maybe 2 if she is comfortable with that). College Admissions will want to see that she challenged herself more and more each year- but appropriately and never got in over her head and drowned.
She also needs some outside interests going on - club, service work, art passion or something. If she doesn't have any of that have her settle on something and stick with it a few years.

All kids are different. School just comes very easily for some. Others fight hard for those passing grades in basic classes.

I'm really curious what she is taking. Foreign Language? Elective?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I don't know the specifics of your daughter's school, but there are some highly rated schools where kids are sort of expected to take honors and/or AP courses. The non-honors track becomes a space for kids with academic challenges, or who are considering a non-college track (the military, trade school, etc.). That could be the case with your daughter's school. So, I'd encourage you to consider an honors/AP track for her. It varies from school to school, but this isn't always reserved for the gifted few.

That said, I recall finding HS to be filled with busywork, when I attended, approximately a million and ten years ago. It was a lot of work, but not a lot of *challenging* work. College was a wake-up call.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My kids go to a Blue Ribbon winning K-8 private school in the western suburbs. Just a few weeks ago I was at an open house and a few of the top 8th grade students were giving a tour. They were asked how long they spend on homework. The answers varied greatly, from 45 minutes to 3.5 hours a night.

It is wonderful that your daughter is so efficient. I would certainly consider having her take Honors courses, or if her school offers it, International Baccalaureate courses.

That being said, I hope she does have SOME extracurriculars. Colleges no longer look at mere academics--they want to see well rounded students, whether that manifests itself in sports, the arts, speech/debate, part time jobs, etc., high school students need to show that they can manage more than just their grades.

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answers from Washington DC on

schools vary, and so do students. seems as if your daughter doesn't struggle as much with math as some do. yay!
i'd be pissed if my teen were stuck with homework until 10 every night.
my kids had a hard time with the maths and sciences, and took catch-up math classes in community college so they'd be up to speed. (the classes were excellent and did just what they were designed to do.) now my younger is a science major in college.
my spare son is a verifiable genius when it comes to math and science, but that boy cannot spell or manage written grammar to save his soul (he's extremely well-spoken but it doesn't translate to his written work.) if you read his writing you'd think he's a twit!
we tend to generalize kids as good or bad students, but often (except with the genuinely unmotivated) it's subject-specific.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

Two thoughts -

Quantity of homework does not indicate the quality of classes; and
You may have been underestimating your daughter's abilities. She may not be a savant, but it sounds like she is above the average.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

It sounds to me like she is making good use of her time. There's nothing wrong with that! She could just as well be using her free time at school to talk to friends, but instead she's getting her homework done. Great! There's really no educational benefit to doing hours of homework. There have been many studies that have shown that to be the case. A good teacher should be able to explain the concepts in class, give the kids the opportunity to practice it on their own (either in class or as homework), and shouldn't need to send home many hours of homework. I went to one of the top-performing boarding schools in the country, and we had 2 hours of study hall per night. That was it. We were expected to use our free periods during the day to get homework done, and any remaining work/studying was to happen during the 2 hour study hall. During my junior and senior years, when I had 7+ AP classes at a time, I really had to prioritize and make efficient use of my time, but there were no all-night cram sessions at all. (And I passed all of my AP tests, so it IS possible not to have hours of homework and still do well in a competitive high school!)

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answers from Austin on

You need to make sure she is in the most advanced classes or honor classes whatever that school offers. , but do consider that freshman year is a transition year. And yes as she takes upper level classes, she will need to work harder, because the expectations are higher, and the pace is faster.

Our daughter was also in a Fine Arts Academy high school, so along with all of those classes she was also in honors and advanced classes. She also used to try to get her homework done or at least started at lunch, but second semester, her classes that required a lot of writing took place after lunch, so she ended up with more night time homework.. She also was taking 7 Academic classes per semester and Rowing for her PE credit, but this was 5 days a week after school.,

She was a student that knew how to schedule her time and get things done.She was a fast reader with great comprehension so reading a book for a report was not a problem for her at all. I an going to guess your child is too.

Our daughter was not in Band , or performing arts, so she did not have to worry about all of the performances and competitions. She was a Visual Arts student, so her extra time was in the Art Studio and on HER schedule.. This made a huge difference from the other strands of Fine Arts studies. Those student had to really stay on top of their homework because a lot of their time was practicing, rehearsing and then performing.

Does this school offer AP classes in the Junior and Senior years? She will want to take those classes so she can take the AP exams and may be able to get College credit..

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Yay to teachers who realize that massive amounts of homework doesn't equal learning.

As she moves on, of course you should consider AP courses.

For now, use her free time to ask her what she likes to do, and find a way to get involved in extracurriculars that fit her. There is more than just sports, think about theatre (including behind the scenes if she's not interested in acting), music, groups that volunteer in the community to help others, etc.

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answers from Chicago on

I was a bright kid not in the honors track ---poor test taker- and I did most of my homework at school. I got mostly A's and smoked a lot of pot. School was boring.

I graduated college with honors from a top school. I suggest you encourage your daughter in extra-curricular activities. There is so much she can learn outside of school, why not let her explore that? Volunteering, working a PT job, etc.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Our son's in 9th grade and getting A's in his courses.
Some nights there is no homework and other nights he's up very late working on it.
Most subjects come pretty easy for him.
But eventually he's going to come across a few that are going to take him some extra work/study to figure out and he's going to need to know the techniques for asking for help, getting a tutor, organizing his notes, forming study groups, etc.
It's better he learn how to do this in high school than to have him floundering with something in college.
There's plenty to learn that's not in the official syllabus.

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answers from Minneapolis on

The homework load does increase in the upper grades. What does she think? Is she bored or does she feel academically challenged? I would judge it more by how she feels about it or what her teachers think than the amount of homework she does. Every kid is different and handles their time management differently.

I do think you might want to talk to her teachers or counselors about the possibility of more advanced classes. Is she taking a foreign language? That requires some sort of daily study and is important to many colleges. Does she have a study hall to do the homework? If so, maybe she should consider an elective course instead. Freshman rarely take study halls at our HS, unless they really need it.

I also think it's important she try to find something to get involved in at school. It doesn't need to be sports. Not everyone is an athlete. Our HS has a variety of activities and clubs to suit every interest. I have a junior and an 8th grader and we are currently going through HS registration for our younger son. The asst principal at our HS told us at a parent meeting that the happiest kids in HS are those who are involved and find some sort of activity. He challenged our kids to list 5 clubs/sports/activities on their registration form as POTENTIAL interests. Not that they should be or need to be involved in five, but five that they might consider and might like to receive more information about. On our HS tour our 11th grade guide told us that her biggest HS regret was not getting more involved as a freshman.

My junior does study a lot and does have a lot of homework, but more now than he did as a freshman. He also takes four Honors/AP classes, Spanish IV and Band. He doesn't have a study hall and he plays hockey and baseball and takes piano lessons. He's doing well, but he's a busy boy and his schedule certainly isn't for everyone. My 8th grader is going to need a different schedule because of some organization and study skill issues. So, each kid is different and I wouldn't judge her high school success or challenges necessarily by the amount of homework, but if she's not feeling sufficiently challenged I would talk to her teachers and counselor about it. Regardless, I would also encourage her to find a club or activity that interests her.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Hi there,
Nothing is too easy......
Most of all, make sure that your daughter starts to think about college and requirements IF this is her goal. A huge load of homework is not the issue, but the orientation and preparation for college/university it is. It is of the utmost importance that, if your kid has a specific college in mind, she understands what her target college's requirements and expectations are.
Now days are different from the past; there are 4 things to keep in mind:
A challenging curriculum (what is she actually studying?)
Good standardized test scores
Excellent writing skills
Last but not least: Significant extra-curricular activities and community service, yes...this is the way it is now, more than ever, so with all the "spare time" she may have, she needs to think on this now and start now.
Colleges will look primarily at these 4 when assessing applicants. Again, keep this in mind and get your daughter to work at these.
I home school my kids, but I want to make sure that I am following these steps to help them to be successful in the near future; my older kid (14) is already working on that; he already knows the career he wants to pursue, and how he is going to get there.
Good luck!
A. :)

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answers from Honolulu on

All you have to do is ask her, if "it is too easy..."

Homework, does not indicate, how hard or easy a grade level is nor its curriculum.

Your daughter, uses her time, very well and seems real efficient. And she works hard.
Good for her.
She seems to have priorities, with her school work.

In HS extra curricular activities are important, because that is how one gets into college. One of the ways. It is what colleges look for, etc.
However, thus, if a kid is in many sports or activities and spends more time socializing than studying, then yes... they MAY be up until late at night, doing homework. Because, that is the only time they have, to do it, at home, because they come home from school after... their extra curricular activities, and then have to do homework. Some kids can keep up. Some simply cannot.
This happens even in elementary school.
Even in middle school.
Some kids can keep up. Some cannot.
...And it depends on their ability to time-manage, and their ability to juggle school work with extra curricular activities/socializing.
I work at an elementary school. And what I see is, if a kid/family does not place importance on school work/homework, and more emphasis is placed on their sports/games and practices or extra curricular activities, then a kid flounders and cannot keep up. And this can happen, with any grade level, middle school or high school.
I have a kid in middle school too.

And if your daughter, needs advanced classes etc., then, what does the Teacher think? Have you or your daughter inquired about that with the school? Do so.

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answers from Miami on

I will explain it the way I've experienced it, having had 2 kids go through both private and public schools.

You are most probably in a larger public school. Maybe 2000 plus kids? They have regular classes, honors classes and AP classes (unless they have an IB program. There are a lot more AP schools than IB...)

She is taking regular classes. I'm sorry to say this, but regular classes are not really for college bound students. That doesn't mean that plenty of college bound students don't take SOME regular classes.

Your child does not have to be gifted to take honors or AP classes. However, she has to prove to the teachers and the school that she can handle and do well with honors classes. She needs to be one of the regular class STRIVERS in front of the teacher. She needs to be participating in class. She needs to do her homework consistantly and well, and do well on tests. And she needs to tell the teacher that she wants to take honors courses next year. The teacher will go to the school on her behalf. And she needs to talk to the guidance counselor who helps her sign up for her classes.

Next year, her sophomore year, should be honors year. THEN, as a junior, she should move up to taking 3 AP courses. No more. Only if she makes all A's next year in honors classes should she take 4 AP courses. (Some schools won't allow more than 3...) She'll certainly know what she's doing in AP by the time she's a senior.

If a certain subject is really hard for her, then she can take an honors class in it, rather than AP.

The truth is, the schools HAVE to cater to different levels of ability and performance. You should be glad of that too. If there were only one level, the kids who aren't able to keep up would ALWAYS be behind. The AP classes have lesson plans that move toward AP testing which will determine if they get college credit for the course. The honors is in between. It's really a win/win for everyone.

As far as high performing private schools are concerned, the regular classes are more like honors, IF it's a good school with high quality teachers. Sometimes they don't have the money to pay high quality teachers, and you end up getting lower quality even though you're paying big bucks for private school.

Hope this helps.

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answers from Chicago on

Lots of times my daughter only has had math homework and a very few times English or Bio. But she also didn't have a study hall last semester cause of marching band. This semester she has homework that she has to bring home maybe once a week.
A good teacher really does almost all the work in class, I would not judge the school by how much homework is sent home.
Oh my daughter is a freshman, taking honors bio, honors english, honors geometry (already finished Honors alg 1 and honors alg 2), band, ceramics and pe this year. She got straight a's last semester, 14/657 was her class rank. So not always a need of more rigor.

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answers from Washington DC on

Many good responses here. I would add: Check in with your daughter to ensure she's not getting bored. If she enjoys learning new things and being challenged, yes, see if she wants to consider AP when the time comes. And meanwhile, see if she would enjoy extracurriculars - that does not have to mean a sport, either! If she likes science, see if the school has a science club; Science Olympiad team; robotics club or robotics competitive team; participates in any of the many science events available to students (sponsored by groups like Intel, SAIC, lots of other businesses and agencies like NASA). If she likes math enough, there is Math Counts (not sure if that's HS level) and Math Olympiad and other things, or even tutoring other kids in math if she's good. Or if she likes the arts, she could try the school play or drama club or art....Or there are service clubs or charity groups in or outside school.

These are all also ways for her to find friends who share her interests! Shared interests, not just shared classrooms or living on the same street, are what really forge friendships for kids this age.

Someone else posted that extracurriculars are important to getting into college and that's exactly right. Today it's so competitive to get into colleges (all of them, not just a select few) that what tips the scale, where grades are even, is the student's demonstration of leadership, experience and interest. So having some extracurriculars under her belt is good for the future. But mostly introduce the idea so that she can have fun and stretch herself.

Also, be aware that in some schools, the schedule includes built-In time for kids to do work during the school day -- that is possibly why she doesn't bring home as much homework as you expected.

Most of all --talk to her and see what SHE thinks about her work load, whether it's too easy, if she wants to do more, etc.

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answers from Washington DC on

Homework means a lot of different things to different people. It can be a chance to prepare for future lessons, to practice what was taught in class, or to extend learning. Two students can get totally different things out of the identical assignment given their individual attitude to the task and its impact on after school activities. Parents can help by how they frame homework within the family's routines and values.

My parents expected that I do my homework under my own supervision. It needed to be done before dinner, but no time or space was carved out for that purpose. When I was in high school, I had nightly homework in every class I had that day (we had some classes everyday and some only 2-3 times a week). Homework was mostly reading or completing worksheets to prepare for the next day's class. Most classes had daily or weekly quizzes so it was rare that homework was actually graded. Math and foreign language were the exception because we typically had 25-50 practice items to complete each night. Like your daughter, I often did homework at school (at lunch, between classes, in study hall and homeroom). I'll be honest that my friends and I completely "gamed" math and foreign language homework assignments by splitting the work up among 5 of us and then copying from each other. Plus, the answers were in the back of the textbook. I don't think this was effective homework since it required a lot of time, but little actual thinking.
When I trained to be a teacher, I wanted to assign innovative fun homework. In my first few years of teaching, I found that parents resisted and devalued homework that didn't look like what they remembered from their own school years. When our district implemented a policy that homework could be no more than 10% of the overall grade, the community culture became increasingly critical of the amount of homework assigned.
During the years I taught at a high-poverty, low performing high school, we were stuck the principal's policy of no more than 20 minutes of homework per night per class (A/B schedule so 3-4 classes a day). My department tried to interpret the spirit rather than rule for this so some nights, we gave no hw and other nights students might have 30 minutes. I received many writing assignments that stopped mid-paragraph because an unmotivated student was watching the clock and refused to work for more than 20 minutes. This was incredibly disheartening for me as an educator, but it made me an expert at giving more bang for your buck homework assignments.
Like your daughter, my older kid was a student athlete in high school. Practices ran until 6 or 7 pm, so she often was up until 11:30, sometimes 1 AM completing homework assignments for her honors and AP courses. Of course, these had low impact on her overall grade at only 10% and she was frequently sleep-deprived. However, she felt better prepared to manage her college coursework as a result.
My younger daughter has (IMHO) little homework this 2nd grade year so we supplement with reading more challenging books, doing science projects, and yes, math worksheets and practical math applications.

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answers from Grand Forks on

I don't remember doing a lot of homework in high school. I was an A/B student, but I worked at least 15 hours a week and committed another 12 hours to a service organization. I spent the rest of my time with my boyfriend.

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answers from Indianapolis on

My daughter was in public schools until 8th grade, and in the gifted classes. She rarely had homework, and maintained all A's simply by memorizing for tests. (not really needing to think). She started at a college prep high school in 9th grade and was blindsided that she didn't have the skills to do well as she needed to actually think, process, and make conclusions. The first 3 weeks were a struggle until she gradually gained the skills necessary to function in a college prep environment. She is a junior now, and taking all AP classes and has a 4.2 gpa overall. I would tell you that the amount of homework she is bringing home is not necessarily indicative of the education she is getting. You will need to dig deeper to determine if she is actually learning, thinking, and gaining the skills she needs to perform in college. This will require you to communicate with college admissions people, guidance counselors, teachers and so forth. I would also note that getting into the college of her choice will require good SAT or ACT scores, extra-curricular activities, good grades, meaningful and challenging classes, recommendations from teachers and so forth. I would determine your daughters academic goals, and see if the school is meeting them. good luck!

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answers from Williamsport on

High schools vary radically. Our local high school is EASY. There are major ramifications for this imo when kids get to college and can't write properly (I know a few adults who have admitted to this) etc, but everyone's happy because it's highly rated ("high performing") for high test scores and everyone's kids are doing great. The high schools near my friends in Austin and NYC are much more difficult, and they say the schools in those cities vary a lot as well. The high school in Los Angeles where another friend's child goes is extremely easy and one my cousin goes to in Tennessee is moderate and one my other cousin goes to in New Hampshire is very difficult. So. Find out how yours compares and enrich her with outside reading, projects and activities if you feel she'll lack skills for applying to college and beyond depending what her life goals are. Even the kids here at the EASY school have more homework than you're talking about so I would be concerned.

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answers from New York on

I guess my question would be why does she have time to do homework at school? As a freshmen she should be carrying a full schedule. If not, I would check with guidance counselor to see if she is missing some courses. You don't want to find out in her senior year, she is short credits to graduate.

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answers from Chicago on

It's funny how you say this because my mother had the same question for my teachers in 6th grade since I never came home with homework. The teachers said that when they gave any free time, I got to work on my homework and then once it was done, I would talk. The other kids just talked the whole time. Moving onto HS, my last class of the day freshman year was world history and it was SO easy for me, I sat in the back row, did all my homework from the entire day and participated the most in the class so the teacher didn't complain. I wanted my free time as my free time...not locked into homework. The kids at school were not my friends to hang out with, so it didn't bother me. There is more homework as the years go on, but it's possible that she'll just keep on that route...I did. Very minimal homework but only 1 B my 4 yrs in HS. College, that was the wake up call. Still got the same grades, but had to work 5x as hard.

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answers from Philadelphia on

My daughter was in academic classes in 9th grade. She made distinguished honor roll last year and it was very easy for her and she was able to get most of her homework done during school although she had a packed schedule without a study hall. This year she is taking 2 honors classes and one AP course. The course work is hard and plentiful:). No comparison. If your daughter wants a challenge tell her to take honors classes next year. We were also told the colleges look at how many honors classes were taken.

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