Friday, October 5, 2007
CCHS parents concerned with sports, thefts
The first Parent Coffee for the new principal, Peter Badalament, highlighted two problems on the minds of parents at the high school: the all-consuming nature of sports at all levels, and a spate of recent thefts, particularly in locker rooms. Of the 25 parents in attendance on October 1, a few reported their own children had been victims of theft by other students.
Recent thefts troubling
Badalament said seven thefts have been reported recently, all involving items left outside or in unlocked lockers. The locker room is where most crimes take place, as cameras installed in other parts of the campus are not allowed there. Badalament noted, "This has been an on-going issue for a decade" and does not necessarily reflect a recent up-turn. On the other hand, "things left out seem to be disappearing really quickly. It's really troubling." Items typically taken include cameras, watches, calculators, IPODs and cash.
There are several issues with lockers that contribute to the problem. Seniors do not get lockers due to the limited supply. Large book bags do not fit in the lockers, and with a 230,000-square-foot campus, many students find their lockers inconveniently located and leave belongings other places. Badalament noted these issues cannot be addressed until the high school building project occurs. A new building would likely have a smaller, more vertical footprint making lockers accessible, and would also include surveillance and security not presently feasible or cost-effective.
One parent suggested consequences for students who buy stolen goods. Responded Badalament, "Those found in possession are held to the same standard as those who stole." Consequences include up to ten days suspension and a possible felony conviction for thefts over $250. Badalament also noted he recently met with police, and new initiatives are being planned which he is not at liberty to reveal.
A parent noted one thief was as brazen as to wear stolen clothing to school, and another parent said the perception now is that "no one ever gets caught." Badalament admitted that the perception is pretty accurate. "The percentage of incidents in which we actually catch somebody is very low."
So how to get students to break the code of silence? Badalament said he will be meeting with the student senate and will ask for input and a plan. In the meantime, he suggested parents raise awareness with their students and tell them to give valuable items to coaches. A coffee participant suggested bright tape on small electronics to make items immediately identifiable and less enticing.
Parents want sports flexibility
A desire for more flexibility in athletic schedules was a topic of spirited discussion. One parent said she regretted her senior had not had the opportunity to participate in activities because of three-season sports. "Coaches are not that flexible about missing a practice" in order to take part in a different activity. Someone else chimed in, "Coaches, especially on the freshman level, need to lighten up." Her student received on-going criticism for leaving practice ten minutes early to get to a job on time.
Badalament agreed with a parent who believed freshmen should have the opportunity to try several activities before deciding where to focus, and promised to investigate whether it was feasible to cut back freshmen sports by one day a week to allow participation in another activity.
A question was posed about the value of having a student who has completed his/her athletic events at a meet stay to watch other teams and ride the bus, when that time might better be used for homework. A parent can pick up a student with 24-hours notice, but many parents are not aware of this policy, and some questioned the need for so much notice. Badalament said coaches believe "part of the team experience is riding the bus."
Other suggestions were put forward, including putting sports and activities information on-line, nailing down try-out schedules earlier, making sure try-out information gets to eighth graders and Carlisle students who do not read the Concord Journal, and disseminating the policy about picking up a student from a meet.
Badalament offered his philosophy that the most important aspect of student athletics is "well-staffed, quality coaching for a solid experience."
Badalament said CCHS is unique in "the more than 30 clubs, more for a variety of interests than I've seen anywhere else I've worked." He pointed in particular to the four to five publications put out by students, and to new initiatives by the Concord Police Department to engage students after school. He added that while he is proud 80% of students participate in activities, he is not satisfied, and would like to reach the 20% who do not.
© 2007 The