October 2014, Forum Notes

Submitted by Shubhra Chandra, Recording Secretary For LHS PTSA Board

Presenters:

Laura Lasa- Principal, LHS

John Murray- Associate Principal, LHS

Jen Vogelzang- PTSA Co- president made introductions to the attendees.

Structure: Topics addressed by Laura and John in an informal gathering. Parents asked questions or asked for updates on the topics listed below.

Resiliency, how to teach students to handle stress:

  • The pace is very fast at LHS. The scale, size and complexity of LHS and what goes on during a school day can be very challenging for students, teachers and parents.
  • The school wants to make students resilient by giving them support to deal with stress.
  • The college process is stressful for students.
  • The School Committee has been looking at the issue through a sub-committee and continues to study stress in the schools. The students need to find their “spark” or “what makes students happy?” There are various causes for stress that the students have to deal with.
  • Parents may be helping the kids too much or jumping in too soon. It might be better for the students to learn how to problem solve on their own. This will also build more resilient students.
  • Curriculum choices often cause stress.
  • Discussion has been happening around putting in an Honors level class where there is an AP level class. Students are under pressure to take Honors and AP level classes and not the CP1 classes. Site Council has also been discussing this issue.
  • There have been conversations with 200 faculty members.
  • Should there be a change in graduation requirements and should we reduce the 4-year requirements in certain subjects?
  • Add more options for Juniors? There are many options in Senior year, currently.
  • 85% of our students get all As and Bs in all 4 years at LHS, this is a high performing environment.
  • Teacher conferences have changed to the Monday after Thanksgiving to be able to address issues earlier in the year with parents and students. When feedback is given earlier, the changes can be made sooner as well.

Building Project:

  • 10 Modular classrooms were added. Very spacious and well lit. Freshman Humanities is in that wing. LHS has about 2,100 students currently. The modulars will relieve pressure on the need for more classrooms. A maximum of 2 teachers will be using each classroom now.
  • 2 Special Education and 2 General Education classrooms will be added to connect the Math and Science buildings. The IPL classroom from Diamond will have one end of the modular. There is a possibility that the general education classes may be used as a computer lab and the STEM classes may be housed there.
  • Commons I and II: Added new furniture and extra seating. 150 extra seats were added and students are beginning to use the Commons for group projects and studying.
  • Security update - Retrofitted the interior locks of all doors with keys for lock down purposes. Every classroom has a specific key.
  • Answering questions on Security- the school is adding more cameras in the buildings at certain spots. Individuals will have master keys. Reviewing protocols with security and working with the Town on this issue.
  • Security, Air quality, Lighting, Safety and Space are all the topics the school is focusing on. John Murray is working with facilities and monitoring the progress closely.
  • In the process of adding Solar panels to the roofs of the building. A large monitor will keep track of the use of electricity and students can use this data for Science projects

 

Enrollment:

  • Next year, 85 more students will attend LHS just in the Freshman class. The year after that the projections are for 100+ more students in the freshman class. The town also does not have projections on how many extra students will enroll in Sophomore year. They did not anticipate the increase they had this year.
  • No formal plan to build a new school. Discussions have to happen surrounding the Master plan for building projects before a decision is made about a new high school.
  • At present- Architects are “mining space”- looking at the physical space to see how they can best utilize the existing spaces. Ongoing small projects.
  • Seating for lunches and Science labs are going to be tight in the next couple of years.

 

Digital Citizenship:

  • An LEF grant is training faculty on Digital Citizenship.
  • Raising students with digital media all around them is very hard and is challenging for parents as well as teachers.
  • Poster on Digital Citizenship will highlight the positive behavior LHS would like students to display.
  • Parents would need to reinforce the behavior at home. A lot of students will model after what they see at home too. Positive role modeling should include dealing with a problem in a constructive manner. The first step in conflict resolution may not be to complain or vent online.
  • There will be no texting in classrooms. Teachers also took a training workshop.
  • Social media is impacting the kids where they are sleeping less and texting late into the night. Students should be encouraged to have more conversations to resolve conflicts and communicate face to face.
  • There has been a shift in the professional as well as educational world in collaboration with the internet (cyberspace), Google, gmail, texting, chatting and all other online sites. Parents need to be educated as to how to talk to kids about the use of the internet and it’s resources likes Apps, etc.

Twitter Workshop for Beginners February 2014

Workshop Handouts:

Twitter Safety Tips for Parents

Twitter Cheat Sheet for Educators PDF

They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets. - NYTimes PDF

Twitter and Your Child, a Parent's Guide to Privacy and Safety PDF

Some Educational Hash Tags PDF

Experts Say Parents Need to be Online PDF

How To Follow Your Child (or Anyone) On Twitter Without Joining Twitter PDF

The LHS PTSA Presents…….

TWITTER FOR BEGINNERS:  Get On The Same Page As Your Student!

DATE: Tuesday, February 4th (Snow Date:  February 5th)

TIME: 7:00 - 8:30 pm

LOCATION: Science Lecture Hall

PRESENTER:  LHS Associate Principal, Adam Goldberg

Twitter is one of the many social media platforms that engage and captivate our kids and is an innovative conduit for news, marketing and information. Ever wonder what it's all about?  Want to learn more?  Do you know what #awesome means?

LHS Associate Principal and techno whiz Adam Goldberg will present a 90-minute workshop for curious parents who want to learn the basics of twitter, how it's used to access information and how teachers and departments are experimenting with it as a new way to communicate and connect.  Some additional time will be spent on other social media platforms (like Pinterest).

Join us for a fun and informative session.

LHS PTSA January 2014 Forum Summary

“Life after LHS Graduation” – A Panel of Lexington High School Alumni share their experiences at the latest PTSA Forum

With over 80 parents and students in attendance at the January 7th PTSA Forum, nine recent LHS graduates shared their stories of life after LHS.  The graduates represented a variety of paths open to students after high school.  Some students took a more traditional path of researching school choices, visiting campuses, speaking with counselors and parents, and applying to several colleges.  Others needed a change after high school and took a “gap year” – traveling, working, or participating in a service program.  Adam Goldberg, Associate Principal, moderated the discussion and solicited great advice and responses from the alumni.  The students were articulate, thoughtful, and entertaining when sharing their experiences.

  1. Our first graduate is a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis.
  2. Our next alumnus graduated in 2011, attended McGill University for a year, decided to take a year off to work, and is now attending Skidmore College.
  3. One student had spent her junior year at LHS attending a foreign exchange program in China.  She realized that she wanted to continue to live in Asia and is now a freshman at Yale NUS College in Singapore.
  4. Our next graduate is a junior at Connecticut College and spent last semester studying abroad in Brazil.
  5. Our next alumnus is a sophomore at Brandeis University.
  6. Our next panelist is a freshman at Columbia studying computer science.
  7. The next student is a freshman at Wesleyan University after taking a gap year during which she spent a summer in Ecuador, worked, and then spent time in Cameroon working with a NGO.
  8. The next graduate is a sophomore at Columbia University.
  9. Our final alumnus is a sophomore at Texas Christian University.

Adam Goldberg and members of the audience asked questions of the panel:

How hard was it to live away from your parents?

  • Not as hard as expected.  Finding a community at school really helped.
  • Already having spent a summer abroad made it easier.
  • College improved my relationship with my parents.  They appreciated my becoming more independent.

What advice would you give to juniors about the college process?

  • Don’t be afraid to apply to different types of colleges.
  • If you’re smart about your choices, you don’t have to apply to many schools.  It’s too stressful.
  • Be open to new ideas when looking at schools.
  • Look around before deciding.
  • Consider your learning style in choosing a school – if you thrive on small classes and discussion, a huge school might not be the best fit.
  • Only apply to schools you would like to attend.

What do you know now about college that wish you had known before applying?

  • Stay positive throughout the application process.  Parents can help you stay positive.
  • Your college experience is what you make it.  Take advantage of the many opportunities offered at your school.
  • Try new things at college – sports, academics and participating in clubs.
  • If there is a college you love, then let the college know that.   Show that you are invested in the school.
  • You will enjoy whichever school you attend.

How would you compare the academics at college versus LHS?

  • College was almost easier than LHS.  LHS students are well prepared to handle the work.
  • College work is different. It’s more independent work.
  • Nice to choose the type of work you want to do and take courses that interest you.

Gap Year

  • Everyone in the room should take a gap year.
  • It taught me independence.  I learned what it was like to live on my own.
  • Students taking a gap year are often more grounded and appreciate global diversity.

Did you feel a lot of pressure to pick a major or area of interest during the application process?

  • No.  Don’t be afraid to say you are undecided.
  • If you do declare a major it’s usually quite easy to change it later.

How do you balance social life and academics?

  • Participating in organizations at school can help you build a network.
  • Take the first few months to dive in and participate in college life.
  • There are many opportunities to engage – take advantage.

If there is one think you could do differently in your high school years, what would that be?

  • Befriend my teachers.  They are a wonderful resource and it makes a big difference to your high school experience.
  • Listen to the advice of those who have been through the process before.
  • The name of the college you go to doesn’t matter.
  • Take advantage of the resources available to you.  There was a small army of people who helped get me through high school – deans, guidance counselors, and teachers.
  • Don’t feel obligated to take all the difficult courses.  Was not happy to have taken music classes and several APs, leaving no “frees” during my senior year.
  • Participate in a diverse group of extra-curricular activities.
  • Focus on fewer activities so you can enjoy what you’re doing and get more sleep.
  • Take AP calculus instead of AP statistics.
  • Worry more about grades freshman and sophomore years and worry less during junior and senior years.

How did you decide which school to attend if you were accepted at more than one?

  • Visit the schools.
  • Trust your gut.

Links to Adam Goldberg’s handouts concerning “gap year” information and the role social media plays in the admissions process.

Gap Year Resources & Programs:

http:/www.yale.edu/yalecollege/international/welcome/gap_year

“They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets”

http:/www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/business/they-loved-your-gpa-then-they-saw-your-tweets

“Experts say parents need to be online, too.”

http://lancasteronline.com/news/experts-say-parents-need-to-be-online-too/article_693bf421-e207-5fff-b7a1-dcdfdea79cd5.html

Cybrary Man’s Educational Web Sites

http://cybraryman.com/digcit.html

Submitted by Jen Vogelzang, LHS PTSA Co-President