By August Kissel and Julia Skeval
Jamesville-DeWitt High School is starting the 2015-16 school year off with a bang. The turf field is finally complete, Google and their apps are taking over the school and a new leadership initative with Vera House is aimed at trying to make the “best high school in the country,” even better. Principal Paul Gasparini was thrilled to update us on the state of the school.
Probably most exciting for the student body and the surrounding community is the grand opening of the new turf field. The project, which has been in the works since 2012 while the $1.6 million funds were raised, is being unveiled and opened for use for the first time at J-D football’s homecoming, Sept. 25. “It’ll be a lot of fun for everyone to finally get to see (the turf),” Principal Gasparini said, adding that the school’s fall pep rally will be held out there as well. To commemerate the historic first game on the turf, all varsity teams and atheletes from all seasons are invited out onto the field to participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Off the field and back into the classroom, students may notice an increase in search engine giant Google’s presence. “We are very excited to bring in our new Google School program,” said Principal Gasparini who feels it “has the ability to launch us into the 21st century.” The 2014-2015 seniors in the SUPA English class originally approached the school board with the idea of implementing Google Classroom into the curriculum. The program, they presented, would allow students and teachers to communicate and connect more easily and have a wider network of mediums to work with at their fingertips. This prompted the district leadership to begin introducing the Google software by purchasing Google’s laptop, the Chromebook, and setting up accounts for every J-D student. “We are having a few growing pains, learning how to use the new technology and all,” Gaspirini added but he’s optimistic that everything will be up and running smoothly by Oct. 1.
Also new to the classroom but maybe not quite as welcomed by students is the new Common Core (C.C.) standards, officially being rolled out as of this school year. Principal Gasparini describes the Common Core implementation process as a group of people who said “well we want to up the level of rigor in classrooms so we want to develop a set of standards that will help people lift the level of curriculum.” Many teachers and admininstrators aren’t happy with this new set of standards because over the last few years, a big educational reform movement swept through the country that became a “lead ballon” with too much change at once. While the Common Core is increasing expectations and demands on the student body, Principal Gasparini made sure to give credit to the teachers, “for the laying the foundation so Common Core can be as successful as possible.” This years juniors will have the C.C. standards in English and Alegrba 2/Trigonometry.
Another new school program that some students may not be aware of yet is the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program run through the Vera House as part of a leadership training program to help put an end to all forms of abuse. Students from grades 10-12 were recommended by their guidance counselors and invited to attend an introductory meeting to learn more about the program’s agenda and goals. Once the students are trained, the MVP program sets them up to organize awareness campaigns and go into the classrooms to educate other students on the power of leadership and how to put a permanent end to the abuse. Principal Gasparini said of the program “I’m excited to see students take control of the direction of their school and create a climate that is inclusive for everybody that reflects the values of the student body.”