This article was written by the members of the journalism class.
On Thursday, September 7th, Steven Dellinger-Pate sat down with the journalism class to answer questions about the most up-and-coming topics around U-32. This is the first article of the year in an ongoing series called Principal’s Presser.
- New Phone Rule
- Staff Shortages
- Relevancy of Transferable Skills to Graduation
- New Sports
- Student Council
New Phone Rule by Jonah Edson
The new phone rule has met huge debate since the moment it was announced. This rule seeks to maintain students’ focus during their 60-minute classes. It appears to be working. In the press conference, Principal Steven Dellinger-Pate said, “What I’ve heard from teachers is kids are paying more attention in class.”
Steven also talks about the parent reactions, which appear positive towards the rule. “I would say that nine out of every ten things we’re getting from parents is thank you,” said Steven.
Even so, some parents disagree with the rule. “I’ve got a couple of parents who are like, you know, my child should be able to use their phone in class,” said Steven. The parents who have problems with this don’t want their child’s phone use restricted by the rule.
However, a few parents aren’t upset over the way the rule restricts phone use. The phone rule states all personal devices, which includes not only phones and wireless earbuds but also student’s personal computers. Some parents dislike that their students can’t use the PCs they’ve bought for use at school.
Personal computers are banned because they create the “same problems that some kids have with phones,” said Steven. PCs don’t have the same restrictions that school-administered computers do. Students can play games or access other things while in class, distracting them.
“We’re actually looking at that again,” said Steven. The administrators who’ve created the rule are unsure where to draw the line for PCs. “There are some considerations being given for whether we use personal devices in some situations,” he said, but noted that Jessica Wills is a better person to talk to about the situation around personal computer use.
Moving forward, we will have to wait to see if any changes are made to the personal computer ban and parent’s opinions on the phone rule.
Staff Shortages by Dee Dow
Since the COVID pandemic many businesses have been having staff shortages, our school is no different we’ve been having teachers leave left and right.
Steven said, “We are short a special educator, a literacy interventionist, and custodians.” Steven added, “We could use substitutes, that’s something we really don’t have many of. It’s harder because teachers have to pick up the slack.”
Regarding staff shortages and how the teachers would be compensated, Steven said, “When teachers teach other teachers’ classes, their pay gets affected by 30 dollars and they would get an additional 30 for however many extra classes they take.”
Reviewing different pay for paraprofessionals, Steven said, “Paraprofessionals if they were able to pick up a class, which is really hard for them to do right now. They get paid differently between their hourly rate and $30, so they would get paid an additional pay.” He added, “It’s a thank you kind of amount for teachers because they are giving they’re planning time to do that.”
When having staff shortages it can really affect the way a child learns in a classroom. Having a sub can make a student think that they don’t have to do anything, and that puts a punch on the future because the children are going to be the future of America.
Relevancy of Transferable Skills to Graduation by Anna Stoner
Sitting down to check you have all of your graduation credits can be a real burden. It can be even more of a pain when you see you’re missing some of those annoying transferable skills. Our principal, Steven Dellinger-Pate, spoke about these pesky buggers.
Transferable skills are meant to be used beyond our high school careers. Reviewing the relevancy of transferable skills in relation to a student’s graduation, Steven said, “We don’t spend a lot of the time actually assessing it,” and he also knows, “It’s a big area of growth for us [teachers]”.
While students get evaluated on these transferable skills, many students have questioned what they are assessing, and Steven said, “It should be showing that we [students] are developing skills that are not just academic knowledge, skills that we need throughout life [like] problem solving, [and] critical thinking.” These are very important skills, and Steven said that assessing transferable skills are “big area[s] of growth” for teachers and administration.
The system in place grades students well, but Steven said that administrators are still working to improve how they do transferable skills assessment and think that, “Long term, [a] portfolio of work would be what we’re going for, but I will say the day we were going to roll out the newest part … was the week after we went into lockdown.” This was unfortunate timing for something that is a part of our graduation standards.
New Sports by Isabel Moustakas
Students may remember a Google Form coming out over the summer asking for opinions about the sports we offer here at U-32. Steven said this came from student interest, “There’s been some interest in volleyball, Bass Fishing has [also].”
However, there isn’t enough support to keep every sport. U-32 might have to cut back on some sports to make way for new ones.
Taking advantage of Central Vermont’s tight-knit community and merging teams with neighboring schools like Montpelier is also an option, “Are there any joint programs that we would want to try and do?” said Steven.
Change could be coming sooner than we think, as early as next fall. “The earliest that one could be added would be next year. So we would have to get it in the budget cycle, right? So if we needed to add money or field changes or anything like that.” Realistically, though, Steven expects this to take longer, “Probably looking at the next two to three years, if we’re going to add any sports.”
For now, the athletic department is gathering opinions. However, a question remains: Is there room for nontraditional sports, such as esports? According to Oxford Languages, Electronic sports (abbreviated to esports) feature competitive multiplayer video games that usually take place with spectators. “I know some people don’t consider that sport, but certainly, it’s something that’s coming along right now,” said Steven.
As of September 2023, none of these changes have been confirmed. Steven said, “Right now we’re just in the survey stage.” As the next few months unfold we will begin to see which direction the athletic department decides to take.
Student Council by Samara Davis
Speaking about whether there has always been a Student Council at U-32, Steven said, “There was, [but] all that student council did was [basically] Pep Rally.” Steven shared the real intentions of the student council, “Student council should be more around leadership and student voice and decision making.”
Student council has been the same for many years, so why is it only now that they are changing course? Steven said, “It died out during Covid, and once it got reconstituted, we wanted to make sure that it was a student leadership organization, not just spirit.”
Although the student council is making headway, there is still work to be done to implement it as a factor of U-32. “I think there’s a lot of potential, [but] I don’t think they’ve had a whole lot of effect yet,” said Steven.
The work of the student council is not going unrecognized though, and Steven shared some of the ways in which the student council is connecting more with U-32. He said, “They’ve had conversations with the superintendent. They’ve had conversations with principles about some changes they’d like to see made.”
“I think that the potential is there for us to have a greater student voice and a lot of activities,” said Steven. As he said, the student council has a lot of potential, but work, leadership, and camaraderie will have to build up to create a strong and effective student voice.