Committee to Study the Mission of CHS
January 27, 2006
Attending: Anne Freske, Lee Kounovsky, Heather Dorman-Scott, Devan Isenhour, Sarah Jansen, Kristin Leatherman, Ken Donner, Shirley Burrus, Diana Shumate, John Moran, Jan Ophus, Sue Bowers
Anne Freske opened the meeting at 6:50 a.m. The group approved the proposed agenda and the minutes of the December 9 meeting.
Kristin and Sarah were asked to share some information about their general experience as students at Marist. Both attended there as freshmen and had older sisters who were Marist graduates. The schedule there is similar to ours, with seven class periods, though the day both starts and ends earlier. In explaining their decisions to come to Creswell as sophomores, one said it seemed like too much money and too far to drive every day to continue there and the other highlighted the challenge of dealing established cliques at Marist and missing friends here.
Responding to many questions from the group, the girls shared the following opinions/
information about Marist:
· Class size is generally around 20-25
· Students know the point of being there is to learn—academics are generally more demanding than here. Probably 95% of students regularly do their homework and are prepared for class
· Parents have the perception that Marist prepares students better for college; Marist marketing emphasizes available scholarships
· There are a few students there with learning disabilities
· More classes and activities are available for students than we have here
· There is an effort to develop a sense of community among each class; by the time a group reaches their senior year, they are really close
· Teachers are available before and after school if extra help is needed; assignments and study tips are available on teacher websites
· Parent involvement is an expectation—either volunteer hours or extra financial contributions
· Student pride is greater there—probably somewhat due to the strong winning tradition of athletic teams
A number of comments/observations were made by the group about the current situation at Creswell HS:
· Our feedback from the certification process of the NW Association that certifies high schools has us “on notice” for being without a certified librarian and health staff, as lacking strong improvement goals and for having teachers who are responsible for teaching more than 160 students. This final issue is a real barrier to providing individual attention.
· Funding issues create challenges. Having a single set of classroom texts makes it difficult to assign homework, as an example.
· The media attention about cutting sports and fundraising in Creswell has perhaps diminished our community’s reputation in some circles.
· Some of our expectations are too low. We have long honored a score of 1000 on SATs, for example, which isn’t particularly exceptional.
· Grade inflation is widespread these days.
· We have a large at-risk population here.
· Family situations present big challenges for many students, with issues evident at Creslane and continuing throughout their school years.
All the students present were asked to talk about the issue of CHS student “self esteem,” as reflected in things like the “Creswell Rools” bumper sticker. Several comments were quoted by friends from other schools such as:
· Creswell—I hear it’s a total joke
· It’s Creswell, get used to it
· I didn’t think Creswell gave hard tests
Ideas for improving student motivation and pride here were brainstormed by the group. Thoughts included:
· Providing more incentives for academic success. Possibilities include not requiring study hall for those with higher grades and allowing students to skip finals if they have solid “A” grades in a class.
· Ensuring that CHS staff members stay positive and do not convey or reinforce negative perceptions about individual students or the school
· Smaller class sizes to help allow more personalization of instruction
Anne Freske summarized the meeting’s discussions. We got a good sense of some of Marist’s strengths, the importance of expectations was highlighted in a variety of ways and the committee heard some valuable feedback from students. She noted that the Creswell community is evolving and that many positive changes are taking place, which should and will be mirrored in the schools. She thanked all the students for making the time (so early on a non-school day!) to attend the meeting.
The next meeting of the Committee was set for 6:45 a.m. on Friday, February 10.
Respectfully submitted, Sue Bowers, Secretary