By: Rohith Raghavan—Correspondent
A new era has begun at Sharon High as the much anticipated school is finally ready to serve the students at SHS. However, there have been a few changes to school policy that could affect student life for years to come.
From lunch to new sign-out procedures, the administration is determined to enforce and update regulations at SHS. ACES block, the successor of Eagle Block, is now more geared toward studying and school related activities. The school has also cracked down on leaving class without approval in response to the numerous incidents of vandalism in the bathrooms and hallways last year. Cell phone usage in class is also being restricted this year. Lastly, the lunch schedule has gone from 4 lunches to 3, with each lunch being grouped by hallway as opposed to grade.
Ms. Christine Ravesi-Weinstein, the new assistant principal at SHS, says that the new policies are designed with the students’ best interest in mind. “We want to help students develop a sense of personal responsibility. It is with these things in mind that we have moved to prioritize these school-wide expectations,” Ravesi-Weinstein said.
Mr. Michael Everett, an instructional assistant at Sharon High School, also explained that the new rules were well timed. “I think with a new school it’s a great chance to change policies that may have been ineffective in the past or semi effective,” Everett said.
Ravesi-Weinstein emphasized the community as the main motivation for changing the lunch set up. “It is my clear understanding that SHS was in need of a greater sense of community. Eating lunch by grade does not create a sense of greater school community,” Ravesi-Weinstein said.
“We are a community of acceptance and integration and mixing lunches is a way to do that,” she added.
Everett concurred and stated that the blending of grades would be good for the school. “I kind of like that it’s more homogeneous or a mix of the grades versus then being just grade specific,” he said.
Everett mentioned that the new schedule allows students to eat lunch at different times throughout the cycle.“Seniors always were starving everyday and not eating until like almost 01:00. And they are all starving by ten like any other teenager,“ he said.
“I kind of like that it rotates around a little bit more and there’s less chaos and we have a lot more space between the lunches,” he added.
Ravesi-Weinstein also cited the chaos and past disruptions caused by students moving through the hallways during lunchtime. “Having students eat lunch by grade creates a huge disturbance throughout the school,” she said.
The assistant principal highlighted the design of the new school as a solution to this problem. “We have arranged lunches mostly according to classroom location. This mitigates hallway traffic and instructional disturbances,” Ravesi-Weinstein explained.
Many students have opposed the new lunch system since it is more difficult to meet friends in the same grade, but Ravesi-Weinstein did not indicate that the administration intended to change the schedule. “Nothing is off the table, but at this time, it is unlikely we will move to four lunches,” shesaid.
The administration has taken a stronger stance this year on signing out before leaving classrooms. “As you know, last year we had a lot of issues with vandalism in the school bathrooms and other instances,” Everett said.
“We also had vandalism in hallways with spray paint and things like that. The sign up process I think is really good because it helps reinforce student safety,” he added.
Everett also states that the new option introduced this year– online sign-out –made the process easier. “Two different options. You have the electronic sign out for going out…and you have the paper one,” he said.
“Even in my day, even though I’m much older, we had a system in place that was more manual. Obviously we didn’t have computers like this, but we knew where students are and it’s always about student safety first and a workable learning environment for the students,” Everett added.
Ravesi-Weinstein similarly says that the more stringent sign-out and hallway rules being implemented this year will enable the administration to know the whereabouts of all students at any given time. “If something happens in the building, we can use sign-out logs to help determine who may have been involved and/or who may have been witness to the event,” Ravesi-Weinstein said.
“It is the legal responsibility of Sharon High School to know the whereabouts of all students at any given time,” she added.
But unlike the significant changes to lunch and sign-out, Everett feels that the Academic Enrichment block is not too different from the old Eagle Block. “Nothing’s changed in that regard. But I don’t know, I mean it’s changed in name only, but I don’t feel like it’s changed in any other way. You still need passes to get places, but having accessibility to a teacher during the school day is unique to Sharon,” he said.
Ravesi-Weinstein assured that the switch from Eagle Block to ACES would still allow phones for academic purposes, something that was unclear to students and staff. “As a school, we will be more lenient about cell phone use during ACES block,” Ravesi-Weinstein said.
Above all, Ravesi-Weinstein explained that the goal of the new policies is to change the way people think about Sharon High School. “We want students to feel a sense of community and pride here at SHS,” she said.
“We’re still in the infancy of this new school and some of these policies, but so far so good,” Everett concluded.