Setting: Modern US Everytown
Search Terms: "school canada us differences" "differences between ontario and american high school" (and variants of the same), "us school system"
I'm a Canadian writing American teenaged characters (in high school) trying to avoid any of the tiny shibboleths
that would screw up the details. between the Canadian (specifically Ontario) and US school systems. It's the basic things that are worrying me, not the big things like standardized tests and the SATs (thus my using "shibboleths"), things a US student does all the time that we just don't do up here. Like call the grades "Freshman/Sophomore/Junior...".
I've already read the Wikipedia article on Education in the United States
but I still want to be sure I've covered the bases. It doesn't tell me, for example, if the US school system (usually) has Spares (periods in which you do not have a scheduled class because you are in a later year), or how the classes are structured in a day (heck, my high school did four periods, split at lunch, that were static for the entire semester, but my brother's school across town would swap the order of afternoon classes based on cycles or something). These are the tiny things that happen every single day but get left out of big articles like the ones I'm finding.
Obviously no answer is complete (thanks to my completely arbitrary Everytown setting plopped of one of the world's largest countries) but if anyone wants to throw anything at me that occurs to them, I'd appreciate. Thanks in advance!
EDIT: A lot of great (and varied!) answers! Yes, obviously there's no such place as an "anytown USA" but I think from all these answers I can at least avoid some
of my Canadianisms ("spare", as many of you have pointed out, is completely alien). Thanks again!