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.