Archive for Wednesday, August 8, 2007

New leader touting changes

August 8, 2007

New Tonganoxie High School principal Jamie Carlisle has a few things up his sleeves for the upcoming school year.

A renaissance program similar to the Pride reward program at the middle school is in the works. Included in the plans are some "real cool opportunities for our senior class," although Carlisle said Monday he wasn't ready to disclose those opportunities.

The return of classroom bells, a new attendance policy, reconfigured classrooms and late-start Wednesdays are a few of the changes he has implemented or proposed at THS.

And then there are those sleeves.

Carlisle added a dress code stipulation in the student handbook requiring students to always wear shirts with sleeves.

"I want all of our kids to not only act but I also want them to look the part of a young adult who takes pride in their actions and their appearance," Carlisle said.

Carlisle said the policy change has spurred some controversy, but he thought students were receptive to the idea.

"I think that the students are teasingly a little upset with it but they fully understand," Carlisle said. "And that's the part I like.

"If you allow students the opportunity to know why you're doing something, as opposed to making them do it, they respond."

Carlisle also noted that the sleeve policy takes the judgment out of whether attire is inappropriate for school -- with the sleeve policy, there's a definable line, he said.

Here are some other changes that have been made or are proposed:

  • Late start Wednesdays. School will start at 8:40 a.m., rather than the normal 8:10 a.m. start, on Wednesdays. Teachers will have inservice during that 30-minute span on Wednesdays. Class periods normally are 50 minutes during the regular scheduling. Carlisle said classes would run about 40 minutes on Wednesdays.

In addition, time will be set aside at the end of the school day on Wednesdays for activities, club meetings and assemblies.

  • School day change. During the 2006-07 spring semester, when students moved into the new middle school and the former junior high was converted into an extended high school campus, the high school's school day ran from 7:55 a.m. to 2:55 p.m. Beginning with this school year, school will start at 8:10 a.m. and conclude at 3:10 p.m.
  • East campus again will hold main office. After a semester at the new Tonganoxie High School west campus, the main office will return to east campus.

For the 2006-07 spring semester, former THS principal Tatia Shelton moved to the west campus, while assistant principal Brent Smith remained at the east campus.

For this school year, the two administrators are switching. Carlisle said their were several logical reasons behind the move, with the main one, he said, being that "Tongie East is the main office because it has been for so long at the high school I wanted to go ahead and plant my roots in this building."

And, Carlisle thought it would make him more accessible.

"Just so it would be a little more public friendly, so that people wouldn't have to go looking for me," Carlisle said.

  • Reconfiguration of classes. For the first semester of the expanded high school campus, classes were divided up into areas of study, with students from the four grade levels attending classes throughout the campus. This school year, Carlisle is working on more of a freshman-sophomore configuration at the west campus building and junior-senior configuration at the east campus.

"We're doing our best to break up the two buildings into a 9-10 configuration and an 11-12 configuration," Carlisle said. "We don't know how that's going to work out the first year."

The new configuration minimizes movement outside and minimizes inconveniences outside, according to Carlisle.

"But we realize there's not ever going to be a perfect setup," he said. "We'll just make it the best we can."

  • Freshman and new-student orientation. Last year, Shelton pushed for freshman orientation, which will be implemented during the first day of school, which is next Wednesday. The day will begin at 8:10 a.m. and will conclude about noon, Carlisle said. He also encouraged new students in the district to partake in the orientation.
  • Bring back the bells. School bells again will be utilized to signal the start and conclusion of class periods.
  • Attendance policy. Carlisle has proposed a school attendance policy to the school board that would allow each student 10 absences per semester. If the board approves the policy, school-related absences would be exempt from the tally, but any absences, whether it be for illness, doctor's appointments or other reasons, would count toward the 10-absence limit. Any additional absences would require the student and parents to appeal absences to an attendance committee that would consist of site council members, teachers and staff.

The policy falls under federal guidelines, Carlisle said, in accordance with No Child Left Behind requiring an attendance rate of 95 percent or higher.

"The policy is we want our kids in school," Carlisle said. "We believe the more we can have our kids in school the better off we'll be as far as educating our students and providing lifelong tools to be successful."

  • Increased dual credit courses. Dual credit courses through Kansas City Kansas Community College have increased for the 2007-08 school year.

"We owe our counselor Kathy Walker a big 'thatta girl' for getting that taken care of,'" Carlisle said.

The last day to enroll for the upcoming school year will be today. Enrollment will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, contact the high school at (913) 845-2654.

Carlisle said he's ready to start his first school year at Tonganoxie High School. He is one of three new school administrators in the district.

"We are Tongie and we want our students and we want our parents, we want our patrons, we want our alumni to be proud of that," Carlisle said. We've had some hurdles to jump over.

"But this is a time of new beginnings. We're looking to the future and we're going to make some great things happen here."

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