As we gear up for the start of school here in South Pasadena, high school principal, Janet Anderson, is getting excited. Explaining that while summer is a bit of a lull for the administration because the kids aren’t there but that with a week to go she’s energized, “I start seeing the kids, the staff, start finding out what people are doing, I get a chance to see parents at the residency verification; this is when the place comes back to life and that’s what I love.”
Anderson says that while last year saw a huge emphasis on the WASC review as well as the California Department of Education’s review where the school earned the California Gold Ribbon School Award, a great achievement that was time intensive, this year she says she’s very excited about partnering with Stanford University on “Challenge Success.” Anderson explains, “it’s an opportunity for us to use researched based practices and apply them to things at our school to make sure the outcomes for students capitalize on helping them achieve as much as they can, but also take into account the things that become stressful.” She goes on to say “we want to try to remove some of the stress while helping them achieve the things they hope to achieve in high school and beyond high school.”
The school is taking a team of eight consisting of students, teachers, administrators, and parents up to Stanford for two sessions and then they will have a coach come to the school to look at issues of homework policies, how to help students be balanced in their lives, AP classes; how many are really necessary or appropriate? “Maybe the theme for the year,” says Anderson, “is going to be about achieving balance.”
For the campus itself, there are new portable bungalows on the front, utility field to accommodate the math teachers who were in the old bungalows on the site of construction for the new math/science complex on the west side of campus off Diamond. They should be breaking ground on the new complex in November. Because of access to that field but also to improve handicap accessibility, there is work being completed on the front parking lot, where they are making a larger access sidewalk as well as repairing a sinkhole in the lot itself. Unfortunately for the teams who use the utility field regularly, they will need to work around it, making use of the baseball and football fields and perhaps even asking for time at middle school fields.
Anderson encourages all interested parties to attend the first PTA meeting on August 28, Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About SPHS, where architects and the Superintendent will be showing us the plans for the math/science building as well as the proposed plans for the huge overhaul of the athletic facilities. Many have inquired about air conditioning in the main auditorium, which Anderson assures us is part of the renovation schedule, which will be a huge relief to the community who not only come out for performances there but who also use it for various community and private events. However, we will have to be patient as it is not scheduled until 2020 and will take two years to prepare and install.
Anderson marvels, “we are so landlocked in terms of what we can do to expand, so it’s really impressive what the architects have come up with given the space we’ve got. The (Aug. 28) meeting is a chance for parents to look at the proposed plans and get questions answered or make suggestions. It’s a very exciting overhaul.”
Watch this space for part 2 where we discuss new staff additions for the 2017-2018 school year.