New Lehman High School principal Janet Saraceno, has officially taken the reigns and begun the school year towards improvements.
Saraceno hopes to make the school a place the students want to be and she has taken several steps towards this goal. “We are going to be taking baby steps to change.”
One of these baby steps includes closed lunch for freshmen. The failure rate for high school freshmen is about 43 % and by keeping the students in the school during regular hours, she hopes this rate will decrease.
Saraceno and her administration believe that the freshmen, who may be new to the freedom granted by high school from elementary school, take advantage of the lunch privilege and often do not come back. Since this new rule, attendance has been increasing.
In addition to keeping freshmen on campus, other grades are only allowed to leave during their designated lunch period, and must show proof of this on their way out of the building. Their programs now have a very large number on them indicating their lunchtime, and a picture of the student in the corner for further proof. Students also have specific doors through which they can leave for lunch.
“We put a system in place, they must show a program to prove it is lunch and we redirected traffic to exit four, when it used to be all the doors,” said Saraceno.
Another change towards improvement has been the division of freshmen cohorts, or five freshmen blocks. This will keep the same group of kids in the same classes together, such as science, math, english, and social studies, meeting with the same teachers. The teachers will then designate meeting times to discuss how they feel the students are progressing or if assistance in needed, because the teachers will be able to monitor the students in a more organized manner.
“It keeps the students and teachers the same. In a large school, it makes certain aspects a little smaller, but retains the true quality and characteristics of a large school,” stated Saraceno.
The large-school characteristic that Saraceno feels are so important in a student’s development include clubs and opportunities that provide enrichment and enhancement programs, which smaller schools may be unable to offer their student body.
Saraceno also conducts what she calls ‘town hall meetings,’ where she goes around to phys education classes to introduce herself and listen to the students. “They can feel free and comfortable and know they have a voice.”
The school also plans on receiving a $ 300,000 capital fund from the school construction authority to improve the cafeteria.
Saraceno and staff have been observing other cafeterias for ideas, and hope to create one that will be inviting students enough to the students so they will not want to leave for lunch. Additionally, they would like to add a wider variety of dishes and bread, a salad bar, and other options to improve student health.