Coming back to school this year has been met with tighter rule enforcement than previous years. This may be regarding events prior to the new year or just to help aid in management of the school with new ideas. Changes and rules have been met with mostly positive reactions and were designed to help construct a more positive learning environment.
Perhaps the rule most eagerly accepted by students is the open use of cell phones outside of classes. This change was put into place partly because last year’s rule regarding no cell phone use was completely disregarded by students. “Before it had been no cell phones, which was not enforced. The faculty recognized it was a bad thing and sent a message that they didn’t follow other rules,” says Dr. Kenney. This was a push to tighten up on the existing policy of no cell phone usage in classes, hoping that if students could freely use them throughout the day, they would feel less need to use them in class and resist disrupting learning. Though if a cell phone is seen being used in the class room, it is within the teacher’s power to take it.
However, the notion of using cell phones in school also implies a more digital-friendly environment. “If they allow students to use devices, like laptops or smart phones, they can do research and communicate assignments. It has grown from students having cell phones to an educational partner, a tool. The policy is to reflect that change,” replies Mr. Kaishian. This attitude has met been with a general increase in students bringing in personal electronics to school, from iPhones to laptops to other smartphones to even iPads and iPad Minis. It has been a large new success in the form of note taking and in-school work.
On a different note, there has been renewed vigor in maintaining the school dress code. This was due to staff concerns that is wasn’t being properly followed and trying to achieve a certain level of dress. If students are wearing inappropriate or distracting clothes, they will be met a few different options. Dr. Kenney reminds “it may be put on a sweater, turn [the offensive shirt] inside out, or report to the office to change into something. The goal is that everyone oblige to the dress code.” The current dress code was written several years ago, trying to be more aware of the message one’s clothing sends, including dignity, modesty, or targeting a certain group. Already this year several students were brought to the office regarding dress code, which Mr. Kaishian expands, “May just be the current fashion.”
A slight change in school policy that may not have affected quite so many is that the auditorium is now always locked. However, in previous years it had also been locked, but the staff had not been attentive to maintaining it. Time to time students had been caught in the auditorium, sometimes just for talking, sometimes for more promiscuous behavior. Another constant is policy regarding drug usage. Punishment remains firm. Use may result in suspension, while distribution could end in a disciplinary hearing or expulsion from school.
A more recent rule regarding no eating in the Maresca has been met with some dislike from students but has generally been well followed. The policy was put into place for several reasons. First and foremost, the Maresca is a designated place for study and work, which is easily disrupted by loud discussions amongst fellow students eating. This rule was created to keep the Maresca a place of work. Secondly, and maybe more surprisingly, leftover food has many times attracted bugs and small animals in the Maresca, to the disdain of the staff whose offices reside there. Lastly, an abundance of trash was left last year, providing unnecessary work for the custodians.
These policies are very much helped by Mr. Murphy, the dean, who deals with all types of these issues and takes care of them. He helps keep the school a pleasant place, with fighting and bullying to a minimum. Aside from Mr. Murphy, the policies are organized by the teachers and administration, who feel that they have had a very positive influence. Recent issues are discussed the first Thursday of every month, in the Troy Lecture Hall at faculty meetings. Currently there are no plans for new policies, but if the occasion arises, they may well be introduced.