More than just numbers at MCHS

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Principal is focused on improvements, no matter how small

By Stevie Lowery

Building relationships with students and maintaining a healthy school culture are a primary focus for Marion County High School, Principal Stacey Hall told school board members during their regular monthly meeting, which was held Oct. 23 at MCHS.

But, at the end of the day, Hall said he realizes what many people are going to be focused on is test scores.

"It's like I told my staff. We're going to be based on a number," Hall said. "We're never going to get away from that... My goal is if we take care of the relationship piece, establish that, and know who our students are, that number will take care of itself."

Hall said he and the staff at MCHS are modifying the way they schedule students' courses and gearing the curriculum around students' needs.

"We're tweaking our schedule because we're looking at students... are they going to college or are they going to the workforce?" Hall said. "If we're looking at college readiness and career readiness we have to gear our curriculum around the students."

One change that Hall has made at the high school this year is the addition of "core/flex time" on Thursdays. For 45 minutes at the end of the day on Thursdays, students who have poor grades are able to get the extra help and study time they need. For students who have good grades, that free time is sort of a "reward," Hall said.

"Time after school is very limited, so we're creating ESS (extended school services) during the school days for these kids," Hall said.

One small drawback is that some students eat lunch really early on Thursdays.

"That first kid eats lunch at 10 o'clock," Hall said. "You're looking at eating tacos at 10:25 in the morning."

Board Chairman Michael Mullins didn't see the early lunch schedule as a problem.

"I've raised five kids. They can eat pizza or tacos any hour of the day," Mullins said.

According to senior class president Hannah Wilson, who spoke to the school board during their meeting, the core/flex time is very beneficial for students.

"That has been really, really good," she said. "It's been an extra kind of incentive to come to school."

Hall said small changes, such as core/flex time, can make a big difference. And improvements, no matter how small, are worth celebrating.

"We're going to celebrate two things in this building... meeting benchmarks and showing improvement," he said. "Kids are coming to us at a certain level. We can't do anything about what level they come to us. But my goal is, and it's what I've told the staff, I don't want to make those kids dumber when they get to us."

According to Hall, 75 percent of students who are currently juniors have made improvements since their freshman year.

"For example, I know a kid that came in our building at a college readiness level of four and now in his junior year he's at a 14," Hall said. "He hasn't met a benchmark but we've moved him up 10 points. We've moved that kid."

Room 126...

During last week's board meeting, school board members were given a tour of portions of the high school, which underwent $1 million worth of renovations during the past year. The high school also has a new Functional Mental Disability room - room 126 - for special needs students. The room is a real world "transitional suite" that is being used by the high school's functionally and mentally disabled students. The area consists of a kitchen, dining area, bathroom, classroom library and technology center. Its purpose is to provide educational and real life experiences and enable the students to become more independent. They will learn basic skills such as cooking, cleaning and doing laundry. Everything in the room has been donated. The project has been a learning experience for students as well. A group of students in Greg Conley's Project Lead The Way class completed the design of the room, and students in Danny Taylor's carpentry class have made and are still making cabinets for the kitchen area of the facility.

Superintendent's report

• Superintendent Dr. Chuck Hamilton reported that traffic issues at Glasscock Elementary School might be improved by creating 15 parking spaces in front of the school that will be available for parent pick-up.

• The school district's fall retreat has been schedule for 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 8, at Marion County High School.

• Connect KY has named Marion County the Technology School District of the Year for 2012.

Overnight trips

• The school board voted to approve the following overnight trips for the Lady Knights girls basketball teams:

- Dec. 21-23: Christmas tournament at Lexington Catholic High School

- Dec. 27-29: Christmas tournament at Montgomery County High School

- Jan. 25-26: Invitational Classic at Mercy Academy in Louisville