by Dinah Aguilar ’19, Lauren Hesse ‘19, Anika Mittu ‘19, and Katherine Sperduto ‘19
Principal Eric Minus met with each grade level in a town hall setting on February 12 and 13 to discuss the current state of the school after first semester, as well as his expectations and goals for second semester and beyond.
This school year had brought about many new changes, one most noticeable by the students being the increased focus on student attendance and engagement in the classroom. To combat Sherwood’s attendance issues, the administration took certain measures such as conducting random hallway sweeps of those who fail to make it to class on time, not allowing students to leave during the first and last ten minutes of class, and being more strict regarding hall passes.
To transparently demonstrate why such emphasis has been placed on punctuality and attendance, Minus spent a fair amount of time during the town meeting reviewing school data with the students. He expressed disappointment that there have been 660 referrals to date, 215 of which are due to students skipping class.
However, he made sure to highlight positive data by mentioning that first semester suspensions have fallen from 68 total for first semester to just 36 this year. Some students were skeptical of this decline. “I wonder if this sharp decline in suspensions is really students behaving better or just due to less enforcement of school and county policies,” said senior Joe Diuguid.
Minus also stated that he wants to see students pay full attention in class, rather than have students distracted by cell phones while teachers are giving instruction. However, some students demonstrated these same disrespectful behaviors such as using cell phones or talking with their peers while Minus expressed his desire to see more engagement in the classroom.
The meeting took on an even more serious tone as Minus acknowledged drug and vape use: two aspects of current school culture that he believes do not have any place inside the walls of Sherwood. “You all are killing yourselves slowly,” said Minus, discussing the use of vape pens with the senior class.
While some students seemed to ignore Minus’ message as they continued whispering with friends, others fell silent. “I think it’s good that he took such a hard stance because people only vape because they think it’s cool and they don’t realize how dangerous the side effects are,” said senior Jacob Grossman.
Minus continued his discussion of student well-being by emphasizing the importance of communication between the administration and students, as well as his availability to students. He stated that he has met with every student who asked to talk with him, affirming that students’ thoughts and concerns would be heard.
On the whole, Minus emphasized a sense of togetherness by discussing plans for the upcoming school Unity Week in March, mentioning his catchphrase “One Sherwood,” and ending his speech by mentioning his own thoughts on unity. “People are stronger together than they are apart, I believe,” said Minus.