Friday, March 7, 2008
CCHS Principal Badalament shares ideas with parents over coffee by Cecile Sandwen
For the second year, Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS) held Challenge Days on February 26 - 28, a program that celebrates “diversity, truth, and full expression,” according to information distributed to parents by e-mail. Principal Peter Badalament at his parent coffee March 3 noted the program was brought to CCHS by students interested in a more supportive high school culture. While last year there were two Challenge Days, that was extended this year in response to student demand.
Badalament said that 300 students took part this year, along with many parents, teachers, and administrators. Nearly 100 students who asked to be included were unable to be accommodated for lack of space. Two facilitators from the Challenge Day organization were on hand as school days were devoted to games and activities intended to build awareness of issues, confidence in each other, and sharing. Participants were encouraged to reveal information about themselves, including personal challenges and concerns.
One parent who had been involved said “It was absolutely phenomenal, the amount of sharing.” Another pointed to the power of a segment in which students apologized to those they have wronged, whether through bullying or refusing to stand up to abuse. She said, “It would be great” if the high school culture would support students who say “Leave him alone” or “That’s wrong.” She added, “Now you have to be a hero to say ‘cut it out’”
Badalament observed that, between the two years, one-third of students have participated in Challenge Days. The community-building exercises are valuable for a while, but he wondered, “How do we keep it going?” One parent said that teacher Brian Miller had gathered students for sharing lunches after the Challenge Days last year, but so many students joined in it became unwieldy. Badalament may form a committee to look at ideas.
A parent who planned to participate in the focus group as part of the superintendent search turned the tables on Badalament and asked what he would want in a superintendent. Noting “Brenda Finn has just been fabulous,” Badalament hoped for someone who would be a good fit with the existing team of teachers and administrators. “While I expect them to have their own vision, I would hope they would value the work already being done.” He cautioned against “change for the sake of change.” Other qualities would include “both inter- and intra-personal skills,” i.e. a person who is reflective as well as able to work with others. A sense of humor would also be most welcome, he said.
“What I’m hearing from you is ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’” said the parent. Badalament responded, “I’m not saying they can’t be a change agent. We need to constantly improve.” But “there are not major cracks in the foundation.” It was noted an on-line survey asks interested parents to rate the types of concerns the new superintendent should be focused on, whether curriculum, new building, or other priorities (available at: www.colongial.net).
Badalament noted sophomores will take the English Language Arts MCAS March 25, 26, 27. Math is in May and Science in June. Juniors will take a Science MCAS which will not count toward graduation. He encouraged parents to be sure students are there because “it’s cumbersome to do makeups” and a doctor’s note is required. An Education
Proficiency Plan is now required for all students who score below “proficient,” but “the state hasn’t defined what these proficiency plans are supposed to look like.” He noted most CCHS students do well on MCAS, and this has been a basis for appealing the requirement for a longer school day. The History curriculum is currently being reviewed to prepare for when that exam becomes a graduation requirement in a couple years.
A parent was impressed that her son had received a survey from his former middle school asking about his adjustment and preparation. She asked if a similar survey could be done with CCHS graduates about their preparation for college. Badalament said it has been several years since an overall program evaluation was undertaken, “We should revive that.” ∆
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