Friday, March 6, 2015

LMHS Principal Report - March 2015

Lee, Massachusetts 

Principal’s Report

March 2015

                We made several changes over February vacation.  First, Patti Mottarella, our guidance secretary, has moved to the Main Office area, joining our receptionist, Jen LePrevost.  This makes sense for several reasons – simply having a second person in the Main Office is a huge help – but, most importantly, this has allowed Dan Korte to turn the guidance area into a College and Career Center.  The Center has comfortable furniture for students, and work space with resources for them to research college and career information.  It also includes a seminar room where Dan (or visiting college, armed forces, or community representatives) can meet with small groups of students and/or parents.  Using funds from the Berkshire Regional Employment Board, Dan has been able to purchase some technology for students to utilize while in the Center as well – a Chromebox computer, two Chromebook laptops, and a large monitor hooked up to a second Chromebox for the seminar room.  Students are already taking advantage of this resource, and it’s not even completely set up yet; we look forward to how it will be used in the future.

                Also over February vacation, we were able to install two new trophy cases, funded by donations in memory of Thomas Smith of the Class of 1970.  These cases have allowed us to display the older trophies that were recovered a short time ago from the basement of the town library.  Additionally, we have been able to restore the portrait of former principal James Brown, and it is displayed in the Main Office, which was dedicated to him in 1987.  Lastly, we have reinstalled (in the entrance foyer) the World War II memorial plaque that was saved from the old Central school.  We’ve had many great comments from community members who have seen these “new” pieces of our school’s history.

                Enclosed with this report this month is the current draft of the new Program of Studies for the 2015-2016 school year.  I’d like to highlight some of the more significant changes to the Program from this current year, and hope to be able to discuss them as needed with you at the meeting. 

·         First, on page 2, you will notice the new statement of Core Values and Beliefs that was approved by the faculty a couple months ago.  Hopefully you will agree that it aligns quite well with the beliefs from the district’s Strategic Plan.

·         On page 4, you will see a proposed return to a credit-based promotion system for the high school grades (earning 5.5 credits means a student is promoted from grade 9 to 10, etc.).  This type of system is in place in most high schools, and I’d be happy to discuss our rationale on Tuesday.

·         On page 6, you’ll note that we’d like to create a graduation requirement of a half-credit of American Government beginning with the Class of 2017.

·         On page 8, we reference a potential dual enrollment program with Southern New Hampshire University.  This has the potential to give college credit to students taking certain LMHS courses. 

·         Beginning on page 11, you may notice some changes to the middle school program, including an exploratory rotation of electives and yearlong physical education for all middle school students.  The core academic classes will remain the same.

·         In the high school section, beginning with English – in the junior and senior years, the department would like to remove a separate honors English course, and have the two Advanced Placement courses (Language in grade 11, and Literature in grade 12) be the sole honors option.  The department believes, and I agree, that this change will provide appropriate levels of rigor for our students, and help to maintain enrollments in those AP courses.

·         In mathematics, MAT401 – Senior Math is a new course, replacing Integrated Math.  It will include some of the topics from the old Financial Literacy course as well, presented in a mathematical manner.

·         On page 27, you’ll see a new option for seniors for their physical education credit – HPE400 – Senior Varsity Sports.  Those seniors who participate in at least two varsity sports may register for this instead of the traditional physical education course.  Among the many benefits of this addition will be an increase in our MassCore rating (which I can discuss on Tuesday), by allowing us to meet the state requirement for yearly physical education in all grades.

·         On page 28, you’ll notice two new art courses – HUM230 – The ISMs, and HUM231 – Mixed Media.  Students will essentially “vote” on which art courses run each year based upon their signups.

·         In the Technology area, there is a new course:  TEC107 – Animation, replacing the old Web Design course.  The department feels that this is a good shift in focus, as most web sites now include some form of animation, and students have been informally requesting a course on this topic.

Lastly, I have notified parents and seniors that the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2015 will be at Tanglewood again this year.  I’m sure there will be many relieved sighs throughout town as that notice is read!

Respectfully submitted,

Gregg Brighenti