Members of Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Szymaniak’s Superintendent’s Council, who will be joined in future meetings by a more diverse group of W-H students, attended the School Committee meeting Wednesday, Jan. 15 to discuss their ideas about things going on in the district and answer any questions from the committee members.
“I feel that they have a pretty good relationship with their high school principal,” Szymaniak said. “They’ll tell him the good, the bad and the ugly. I think they have a pretty good relationship with me and they’ll tell me the same.”
School Committee Student Advisor Caitlin Veneto was joined by fellow Superintendent’s Council members Anika Floeck, Jordan Pelissier, Chloe Wilson and Marissa Connell, all seniors.
“We’re looking forward to get students more involved with School Committee meetings because we’re looking for your input,” Hayes said. He explained that the students would also be asked to funnel student body questions for the Committee through Szymaniak.
Hayes asked about school start times, noting the debate that has surrounded them since they were changed a few years ago for budget savings.
All the Council members, while they struggle with the early start times on occasion, it is beneficial because students can get an earlier departure from school for participation in sports or part-time jobs and internships. They also pointed out that AP students such as themselves have a lot of homework and, as a result, later start times would just mean going to bed later.
Regarding extra-curricular activities or classes they would like to see, the students said an activities fair for eighth-graders or later in the school year for freshmen — after they settle into a high school routine — would be helpful to outline programs and classes students might want to take.
Venito also said the school’s mentor program might be extended to revisit freshmen at the end of the school year to get their feedback on clubs, sports and classes — as well as perhaps a summer workshop on the college application process. Wilson suggested extending mentor programs into upper classes to help with the college application process.
“I know when I first came here, I kind of struggled with fitting in and finding my group, at first,” Floeck said. “I feel if the mentors were more involved long-term it might help other kids transition better to the high school from middle school.”
School Committee member Dawn Byers, noting that 2020 is a presidential election year, asked if the students have thought about registering to vote.
“I am already registered to vote,” Venito said, noting a friend has discussed the idea of a voter registration fair at the school. Floeck said the History Honor Society is planning to work on the elections as part of their projects for the year, including student voter registration.
School Committee member Dan Cullity asked what classes the students would like to see offered at W-H. Wilson mentioned either micro- or macro-economics, Venito said she would like to see an AP music theory class offered. An SAT prep course was also mentioned as a course that would be useful.