The seniors will celebrate their third quarter win on Monday, April 22 during fourth block and seminar. The party will consist of going to the track and field house to enjoy the weather and play games.
First quarter, the seniors won with the most class cup points of the quarter. They celebrated with a breakfast first block along with raffles, prizes and basketball.
The second quarter class cup winners were the sophomores who celebrated with a movie party, popcorn and candy.
Counselor Erin Hayes explained that the fourth quarter party is still up for grabs and there is still competition going on.
“There is no reason to give up even if [the class isn’t] the winner of the grand prize,” Hayes said. “They will still be able to celebrate fourth quarter rewards party if their class wins.”
The class that wins with the most points from the whole year will be tailgating and attending the Royals game on Thursday, May 2 against the Tampa Bay Rays. The class will leave after their first block class to go to Kauffman Stadium. The class that wins the reward will be announced at the end of April.
According to Hayes, students should not give up on the opportunity to keep earning class points because there is still room for each class to win the fourth quarter reward.
“There is still a battle going on for the fourth quarter party,” Hayes said. “It’s still encouraged to keep trying to make it out to the games of the week and earn points for your class. Everyone should still be trying to win something for fourth quarter.”
What made you decide to be counselor Erin Hayes’ student aid?
I feel that I am an extension of Mrs. [Erin] Hayes, therefore [being her aid] only seemed fitting. I am like a Mrs. Hayes in training. I follow her around [a lot.]
What do you usually do for her?
Sometimes I write notes from the tooth fairy [to her kids] and heckle other teachers. We also follow Mr. [Jack] Johnson aro und everywhere and I make a lot of copies.
What is the best part about spending time with Mrs. Hayes?
She acts like a 12-year-old so she’s quite entertaining. She really does.
What is the funniest thing that has happened between the two of you?
One day we were going to be dumb and write on Mr. [Jack] Johnson’s white board. When she unlocked the door, we found Mr. Johnson getting off the floor in the back corner. It scared us so badly that we sprinted all the way back to the counseling office. We have looked up Despicable Me 2 trailers and memorized them. We have looked up fun facts about alpacas. One time I even stole her office chair and hid it in Mr. Johnson’s room and made her go find it.
How has your relationship changed since you have worked with her?
[Now] we are more friends than teacher and student.
What are your plans for next year?
Attending a four year college and going to law school.
What will you take with you for the future from this experience?
How to have fun no matter how stressed out you get and to always have a smile on your face because it can make someone’s day.
The Class Cup first quarter reward party took place for the winners, the seniors, on Thursday, Nov. 15 during first block.
The reward party consisted of skipping first block to have breakfast, listen to music and participate in open gym activities. Student Leadership Team coordinator Erin Hayes described it as a “time to relax as a class.” The seniors of SLT choose the reward.
Senior Josh Russell felt that the party could have been planned better.
“They were very underprepared food-wise, they ran out of food before the girls got there,” Russell said. “I would’ve rather stayed home for first quarter.”
In the future, SLT plans to get board approval for late arrival as a Class Cup quarter reward. If approval is given, the reward for future quarters would be to allow students to sign in any time during first block
Sophomore Raven Hodges likes the idea of coming in late for a reward.
“Late arrival sounds cool. We tried hard to spend time to show spirit at games, so it makes sense that our reward would be getting time back,” Hodges said.
According to Hayes, the Class Cup has achieved its goal of increasing school spirit.
“It’s had a good first quarter. I’m really excited about it,” Hayes said. “This is my fifth year at Mill Valley and this is the year that I’ve seen the most spirit. I think adding the competition really helped.”
After working for four years toward a military-related academy, senior Devin Ellison has finally accomplished his goal. This fall, Ellison will be attending the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. which has an acceptance rate of only 23.3 percent.
The Academy trains servicemen who are charged with the duty of manning a fleet of ships, which operate as a military unit. Ellison said he always knew he wanted to attend a military academy.
“I wanted to apply to get into West Point as my first dream, but then I applied to all the academies too,” Ellison said. “They are all extremely selective, and I was nominated by Sen. Jerry Moran to attend the Merchant Marine Academy.”
Growing up in a military-based family with his grandfather in the Navy and his father a part of the Army and Coast Guard, Ellison is now able to join the ranks among his family members.
“My goal for the future is to graduate from the academy,” Ellison said. “After, I could enter into any service as a commissioned officer or work in a maritime industry if I wanted to.”
Ellison said he is grateful to the school for helping him achieve such an honor.
“The teachers and staff helped keep me focused,” Ellison said. “Sports taught me how to be mentally tough too, which I will need to complete the academy.”
Counselor Erin Hayes said the school is proud of Ellison, as well.
“It is so amazing for Devin to get accepted,” Hayes said. “[The staff] is all so proud of his accomplishment.”
A decade after the No Child Left Behind law was passed and ushered in a new standard for schools across the nation, President Obama has freed 10 states from certain restrictions of the law, most notably the deadline for bringing all of their students to proficiency in reading and math by 2014.
The states, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, Colorado, Minnesota and Oklahoma, were granted release from the law after applying for a waiver program that was announced by President Obama in September. The program was announced because of many states that had adopted standards that interfered with the No Child Left Behind law.
The law, passed in 2002, aimed to standardize each state’s education system. It has, however, been up for renewal since 2007, and with President Obama’s new waiver program, there is a chance that we will not see its renewal anytime soon.
While some officials have praised the waivers, others have been more critical of the program, citing a lack of consistency as being potentially problematic.
“I would think that if we’re holding every single state to such high standards except for a certain group of states, then why should we have the standards at all?” counselor Erin Hayes said.
The law may lose even more power as 28 more states including Missouri and Kansas as well as the District of Colombia and Puerto Rico, are still seeking to apply for the waiver. Federal officials are reportedly working with New Mexico, which has been denied because of its unfinished application.
The law has been criticized by state education officials because of the difficult deadline of 2014, and did not take into account the needs of disadvantaged children. President Obama offered that if the states set higher standards, they would be afforded greater flexibility as to when to achieve the standards.
When speaking about the waivers at the White House during a press conference Obama said, “We’ve got to do it in a way that doesn’t force teachers to teach to the test, or encourage schools to lower their standards to avoid being labeled as failures. We’ve said, ‘If you’re willing to set higher, more honest standards than the ones that were set by No Child Left Behind, then we’re going to give you the flexibility to meet those standards.’”
Sophomores and juniors began course selection on Tuesday, Feb. 14. The selection process this year includes the additions of over 14 new classes and new names for previous classes, such as Broadcast Journalism is now called Digital Media Design & Production: Broadcast.
In addition to the new classes that are being added to the course options students may select, there is expected to be even less leeway in the schedule changing policy due to an increase in the incoming class size.
“Make sure you choose courses you are committed to,” counselor Trish Chandler said. “We are graduating 221 students and taking in 354, so all courses will likely be full. If you are not committed to the class, then don’t choose it.”
The only allowances to be excused from a course is if a required class is necessary for graduation, if a student has already received credit for the class, if a student doesn’t have the prerequisites for the class that he/she is enrolled in, or if the student has an incomplete schedule, according to the schedule change policy. Sophomore Rebecca Laubsch said she experienced the policy enforcement earlier this year.
“I think they’re really picky about schedule changes,” Laubsch said. “I understand that they’re going to have a lot of kids coming in next year and some are going to want to change just to be with their friends, but right now I’m in a class I really hate and would have liked to change out of it. But, because of the new rules, I wasn’t allowed to.”
However, she said she is looking forward to the new class options.
“I am so excited for Advanced Drama,” Laubsch said. “I took drama my freshmen year and really miss it and I’d like to improve my acting skills.”
As well as new class availability, the school now offers more AP classes than ever before, including AP Calculus and Physics. With the new classes however, come new obstacles, such as deadlines for the spring assignments, according to counselor Erin Hayes.
“Students not meeting the set deadlines and not filling out their forms correctly are our biggest obstacles during course selection,” Hayes said. “But, we try to communicate as much as possible and send out reminders to encourage students to turn in all their papers prior to the deadline and use everything we have to fix these problems.”
The AP classes’ spring assignment deadline is Wednesday, March 21. Hayes said that if any student has any questions in regards to course selection, the counselors are always available.
“If a student has any questions about course selection, come see your counselor,” Hayes said. “We are always glad to help.”
Scrolling through course selections on her computer, former Mill Valley High School student Kaelynn Parsons opens a lesson for her U.S. History class. Rather than cracking the books with other students, Parsons will work on earing credit in the comfort of her own home.
With the recent availability of virtual school to get a high school diploma, an increasing number of students made the choice to take school online.
“I always thought that the normal routine just wasn’t for me,” former Mill Valley student Andrew Knabel said. “So I decided to try online school.”
Knabel is an online high school student through Eudora Community Learning Center. He transferred in January and plans to graduate by November. Knabel chose to transfer to online school to stay home and help out.
“The difficult part is having to learn it all on your own,” Knabel said. “Most of the time you have to work five times harder to understand it.”
While it seems that online school would be easy, Parsons disagrees.
“A misconception people have is that online school is easy, but it’s really not,” Parsons said. “You really just teach yourself everything.”
Parsons attends Connections Academy, a virtual school for students to receive their high school diploma. She began school in September and plans to graduate in May. Parsons made the decision to transfer to online school to graduate early and move on with future plans.
Most virtual schools are flexible for the participants. Students can decide to pick a rigorous or lenient schedule.
“The best part is that it’s relaxed,” Knabel said. ” I’m not under pressure and I can take my time.”
Even with the flexibility, Knabel occasionally found it difficult to stay on task.
“You think to yourself, ‘What’s the point? Why worry yourself?’” Knabel said.
Parsons enjoys working at her own pace. She plans to spend six hours per week day completing school work in order to graduate on time.
“My motivation is that I am graduating early and I get to get out of the house,” Parsons said.
Depending on the online school, many virtual schools will also have a graduation ceremony for the students.
“I’ll still have a cap and gown,” Parsons said. “But it’ll just be with a bunch of strangers.”
Students choose to transfer for many reasons, including physical or mental limitations, issues at school or home, or for other personal reasons. There are few social opportunities involved when participating in an online school, and that’s not a good thing, according to counselor Erin Hayes.
“Part of learning is learning about each other, sitting in a classroom and learning from other’s mistakes,” Hayes said. “You don’t have that kind of interaction with online schools.”
According to Eudora Community Learning Center coordinator Angie Miller, online school is a good option for some students.
“It’s self-paced, so [students] can go as fast or as slow as they need,” Miller said. “If a student struggles in a subject, they can work on it as long as they need.”
While an education acquired online lacks certain aspects of regular public school, it is a choice worth considering.
“It’s a nice alternative and it’s very easy to get used to,” Knabel said. “If you have good time management skills, you will succeed.”
A major topic of interest since the school year began is the news of early release from seminar on select Fridays. This change is part of a state mandate and district-wide initiative known as Positive Behavior Intervention Supports, or PBIS, that administration has worked on developing since the end of the last school year.
One goal of this initiative is to create a positive environment where students can be recognized for good behavior and earn rewards for things like good grades, being on time to class, or behaving well.
”I hope we can make [Mill Valley] a place people want to be and are excited to be here,” associate principal Jennifer Smith said.
The behaviors targeted with PBIS are attendance and tardies, grades and seminar productivity. Smith hopes to see a decrease in tardies and absences and an increase in student achievement along with a more positive environment.
”Any opportunity we can to help everybody be the best they can be; that’s what we’re about,” Smith said.
Smith is the administrator most involved in the development of PBIS and is a member of the PBIS steering committee. The steering committee also includes social worker Debbie Gudenkauf, counselor Erin Hayes, social studies teacher Chris Dunback, communication arts teacher Ashley Agre, journalism teacher Kathy Habiger, as well as juniors Hanna Torline and Taylor Hunter and sophomores Davis Cantwell and Gabby Fangman.
”[Being invited to join the committee] made me feel like people actually do look up to me and that what I do does affect other people,” Hunter said.
The steering committee formed two student leadership teams, one composed of freshman mentors and the other composed of student leaders in sports, clubs and other activities from grades 10-12, to help develop incentives to offer students. According to Smith, all those involved are excited about PBIS.
”What I may think of as a reward, you as a student may not,” Smith said. “We’re going to really rely on those two groups of people also to help us present the information…and get the students involved.”
The first meeting of the freshman mentor student leadership team took place on Friday, Sept. 9 during seminar. Smith, Dunback, Hayes and Agre were present to lead the meeting of almost 40 students. Smith and Dunback both addressed the group.
”We want to start with you…and that’s why you’re here,” Dunback said. “You have more power than we do.”
The students were given large sheets of paper and markers to come up with ideas for future incentives other than early release. Some of the ideas were half-day finals, discounts on certain food items at lunch and off-campus lunches. Meetings of the steering committee during the previous school year included discussions of special parking spots for each grade level. The student leadership team made up of various school leaders also met on Monday, Sept. 12 to discuss incentive options.
Future incentives will be given clear guidelines before being put in place to prevent any confusion. The early release incentive will begin today and will be based on grades, attendance and being productive during seminar according to Smith. There are nine scheduled early release dates throughout first semester.
The incentives are not the most important part of the PBIS initiative for some, however.
”What I’m really focused on is…the leadership,” Dunback said. “One of the things we want…is to really try to increase the positive culture of our school. Changing the…culture, it comes from setting an example on what is acceptable behavior and what is not.”
Changing schedules is an annual activity for some students. But, due to changes this year, students now must justify their reasons for the switch in their schedule.
First, a form must be completed stating which course they wish to drop and which they would like to take in its place. Along with the form and justifications for the switch, a parent’s signature is required and occasionally, a meeting with your counselor. After the process is complete, the counselors will make contact to notify the student if the request has been approved or not. The deadline for schedule changes is Friday, Aug. 19 by the end of the school day.
The new administration-implemented initiative was primarily created to help course selection and scheduling occur smoother than before. Associate principal Jennifer Smith said that the need for the students to provide a reason for switching is to preserve a well-kept learning environment.
”[The administration and staff] wanted to emphasize that students should carefully select the classes they take,” Smith said. “When you have a significant number of schedule changes, it makes it difficult to maintain a balanced class size and positive learning environment.”
Although the initiative was taken to slow the number of applications to change schedules, Counselor Erin Hayes said that the changes in the system made the process more controllable, it didn’t necessarily slow down the number of applications.
”[The new system] makes it less frantic at times in the morning when it’s total chaos. It’s more structured,” Hayes said. “I’m not sure it’s slowing requests down, but it makes it a little more manageable.”
As the school saw an increase in students and the potential increases in the future, the district found it necessary to develop a model similar to that of other, larger schools. Sophomore Shelby Rayburn said the increase in the school population made the schedule changing process more difficult for students.
”[The increase in students] made it more complicated to change up your schedule,” Rayburn said. “More people have different [classes] they want to change and take, it’s just complicated [to switch].”
Senior Aaron Lee believes that, although the process changed slightly, it didn’t really affect the amount of time it takes to change a schedule.
”It takes just about the same amount of time as it did last year to me,” Lee said. “You get through the line pretty fast unless you have to meet with your counselor, then it takes a while.”
Though the process changed, Smith says it is a way to work for everyone.
”Before the switch, it was frustrating for students to wait and not get what they want,” Smith said. “But now, it’s a way to work for everyone. Success is the goal of it all.”
The JagWire brought together students and staff to discuss the stronger enforcement of the dance policy in a roundtable discussion.
JW: How did you perceive previous years’ dances?
Junior Robbie Weber: I’d definitely say not as well enforced, I don’t remember seeing radios or people in bleachers last year.
Junior Paige Hillebert: I think people still complained last year though, protested music. It stunk so we all sat down.
Principal Tobie Waldeck: All I can tell you is what I have heard. This is coming from parents. I received numerous emails and phone calls telling me the dances were completely inappropriate and they wanted to know what I was going to do to fix that. And so as time went on, I got a little bit nervous about that. And so we did what we could do to make sure the kids danced appropriately.
JW: What happened with Homecoming?
RW: To be honest, I didn’t like them really but I did sign the dance conduct thing so I think they had every right to step it up a bit.
PH: I didn’t like it. I think everyone was so mad because it was shocking that they were actually enforcing it.
Assistant principal Marilyn Chrisler: Do you [students] think you stressed out more? Or over-analyzed before you got there or tried to go in? I mean, some kids didn’t even go into the dance.
Senior Tori Couts: I think it was all word of mouth, just how everyone carried it out.
TW: Everything that went on went through me, period. And was it over the top? Probably. But the bottom line is this policy wasn’t something that was invented by me. It wasn’t something I was going to relinquish… This is one of those places that we are all obligated to be decent.
MC:You’ve got to understand that there are 1,100 kids in our school, and we have to follow the rules for everyone. There were some people that were very inappropriate.
Counselor Erin Hayes: I just think it’s a very awkward thing to try and enforce. How would you guys have enforced it differently? Coming as an adult, I am very uncomfomfortable walking up to you. How do you handle that without coming across as “No touching,” which obviously isn’t going to happen. How could it have gone differently and been okay?
TC: I felt like going into this dance all the supervisors already thought it was going to be mass chaos and so bad, like last year’s and previous years’ [dances] were terrible. But from my eyes, I didn’t see any of that at any of the dances. There were the occasional few people that were inappropriate but it wasn’t masses of people being outrageous. I never saw anything like that, maybe you guys thought it was going to be terrible. I thought it was a lot of supervision.
EH: So it went from one extreme to the other.
TW: It did. Absolutely it did. You’ve got to give me a little bit of leeway here, in the fact that I never, in all the things I heard about the dances, not one time did I hear a positive thing. Before I even set foot in the building. So yes, I was expecting the worst. So was it over the top? Yes… No one felt worse than I did.
JW: Should the policy be updated, and if so, how?
EH: I think it needs to come from the students first. I feel like you guys should be the ones to revise it. It’s your dance.
TC: I honestly don’t think the way that we used to dance was inappropriate. I thought it was fine the way I danced at dances. I think there were probably some people, I never pulled up my skirt up to my butt, I never did that. I didn’t see a problem [with my dancing].
TW: The grinding thing, somebody’s going to have to convince me that that’s decent, and I don’t feel like I’m being old-fashioned.
RW: I think it could definitely be appropriate. There’s always going to be people who pull up their skirts or three-point stance, but in my honest opinion I believe that most grinding that goes on at the dances is appropriate.
TW: [Those contacting me have] talked about face to genital area, they’ve talked about-
PH: I have NEVER seen that.
TC: Yeah I have never seen that.
TW: Multiple, multiple, multiple reports from before I even set one foot in this building. I’ve heard the same thing from students. Ninety percent of the communication I received from parents and kids calling me after the dance were thanking me. Of course I know I’ve got a lot of kids aren’t very happy with me. [WPA] same thing, lot of people telling me this was a very good dance.
JW: What should students dance like?
MC: Like you did at [WPA].
TW: Can I just say that I don’t think I should have to go into detail? Can’t I just say to young men and young women that you are expected to dance appropriately? In other words, nothing sexually explicit.
MC: Probably not back to front.
TW: Nobody said you can’t dance, and you can’t be close. That never even entered my mind, not one time.
JW: Do you believe there is such thing as appropriate grinding?
MC: What if we just don’t? What if we just don’t grind? What if we dance face to face and all together like you did [at WPA]? What is it with the grinding thing? I just don’t get it.
RW: It’s just what our generation does, I guess. It’s what we do.
PH: They’re usually not dancing alone, so it’s not as embarrassing as where you’re dancing facing someone. They have to look at you dancing, they can see if you’re being embarrassing.
TC: I guess for the face to face thing, the group of people that were at [WPA] were a group of people that were willing to change, a group of people that understand that we have to make this better, and that’s not everyone in this school. Unless the dances are now all the people that came to [WPA], then I don’t think that it will change.
TW:I’m willing to listen and willing to come up with ideas, otherwise I wouldn’t even be here. I want to hear what you have to say, but the one thing that I will not negotiate with will be decency. I cannot negotiate on decency.
The JagWire also spoke with the superintendent-elect, Dr. Doug Sumner, for the district opinion on the enforcement of the dance policy.
JW: What do you know about the dance policy?
DS: I’ve seen a copy of the policy, it’s pretty generic.
JW: What’s your personal opinion?
DS: I am for dancing. Here’s the thing for me; I’m a person that tries not to overreact or under react. I think far too often when we are faced with a situation liked this we go from one extreme to the other. I know Mr. Waldeck will do his very best to find the right response. I haven’t seen the dancing myself so I can’t tell you what’s going on. I hear its MTV-esque, and it was a little too much. I’m aware enough to know what dancing looks like today. My response is I have to trust people to do their jobs. The problem here is the difference in perception between what the students believe is appropriate and what the staff thinks is appropriate. Part of me is surprised that the students are surprised that this response is occurring. It’s a time and place thing. We are looking for the common ground.
JW: Do you think we could find common ground that would leave both parties happier?
DS: I would say there is absolutely a need to have a conversation with students. I will be the first to stay I don’t understand as much as we need to about what the dancing is. Is there room for compromise in this? Yes, as long as everyone is willing to be reasonable. But the final product has to look good at the end. There has to genuine compromise.
JW: Students are fairly worried about Prom. Do you think it’s possible to work it out?
DS: This absolutely has to be worked out before Prom. I can’t imagine that the standards put in place are that strict. But I would be surprised if I’m wrong. My view of what would be appropriate and not appropriate would never be so high that it would stop people from having a good time. That’s why it’s important to me that this gets worked out before Prom occurs.
JW: Do you think there is a level of grinding that could be acceptable?
DS: There are categories? Bending is where it goes wrong. The positioning is the hard part; you have to remember the thing that initiated all of this was, from what I’m told, parent complaints. We are in a tough position here. I would be very comfortable with some decent form of grinding, but people might think it’s too much.
JW: How can it be worked out?
DS: We need students to step up and endorse the understanding. You guys need to be able to walk away and want to sell it. Then it’s our burden to walk away and make sure our agreement stays in place.
JW: How possible is a clean decent compromise for Prom?
DS: Not only do I think it’s possible, I think it’s essential. If the kids we are talking about are decent and responsible. We, on the district side, have to give Mr. Waldeck permission to work things out. Because the talk he got was probably pretty serious. I think compromise is completely achievable, I would be shocked if it’s not. I don’t think you need my help, but I would be happy to lend the district’s perspective to the discussion, but there are a lot of reasonable people here. Dancing is a beautiful thing. For me to think that kids would be missing out is hard for me. But there is a way to have great expression without having offensive behavior. The issue is to get people to be willing to look beyond their personal views and opinions. I want everyone comfortable enough to be able to attend and enjoy a dance.