OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Students will see many changes to Oswego High School when they return this fall.
However, there are also several changes they might not notice right away.
Superintendent Bill Crist, OHS Interim Principal Jim Huckabee and assistant principal Brian Hartwell met Thursday at the superintendent’s office to discuss the metamorphosis under way at the high school.
There is work being done to improve the science classrooms and some major changes to the cafeteria and kitchen.
Huckabee, of Oswego, is a recent retiree who has had significant experience in the area of school administration. He spent most of his career in Carthage serving as a principal and an assistant superintendent.
“I graduated from OHS when it was on West First Street,” he said.
There are many changes under way at OHS that will enhance the school, Crist said.
“The house offices will be closed and a central office and student services center will be created in the existing main office, with our guidance located adjacent to the main office in the B-11 and B-12 suite,” he said.
The former house principals will assume the title of assistant principals.
The school psychologist and security offices will move into the academic wing to be closer to the students. And, the athletic office will also move to B-8, closer to the athletic areas Ã¢â‚¬â€œ gymnasium and weight room.
“Jim has only been with us for a short time, but he’s already done some creative and ingenious things,” Crist said of the interim principal.
They are bringing back a more formal student planner for all students to use, Crist noted. Besides reference material, it also has a copy of the code of conduct.
Huckabee said he has attempted to meet as many people as he can at the school.
“I feel we have created a very strong administrative team at the high school,” he said.
He has gotten a good idea of what’s going on from meeting with the school’s staff and representatives of the student body.
“We want the community to know that the Oswego High School is a great place to be, a safe place to be. We’re going to make every effort to try and let people know those things; invite people in and see the high school. There are some really great things happening there,” he said.
“It’s an important issue. People need to understand what we’re all about and it is a good place to be,” he added.
He wants to keep the lines of communication open between the administration and community all year long, he said.
One of the primary functions of the assistant principals will be dealing with discipline, he added.
“Discipline is always an issue that we need to stay on top of. When we talk about the school being a safe place, we want to make sure that people are living up to those expectations,” he said.
The planner will be helpful because it will give students consistency and keep them organized, he said, adding he hopes it will become the culture of the building.
“We’re hoping that within a short period of time that it really will become the culture and the kids will know it and understand what this is all about,” Huckabee said.
The planner can also be used to document how many times a student left a classroom.
Actually the OHS staff isn’t in the high school yet due to the construction. They hope to move back in (from Leighton) the week of Aug. 10.
He has been in meetings with the contractors letting them know what the priorities are for the school.
“Two days after Labor Day, we’re going to have students and we need things, we need a cafeteria,” he said. “It’s important and there has been a lot of dialogue between the high school administration, the central office and the contractors. The people have been great.”
“The contractors have been very attentive to our needs,” Crist said. “That has been very helpful.”
The cafeteria will include some large-screen TVs, Huckabee said.
He added a new policy will be in place: no electronic devices, no telephones, iPods and things like that will be allowed to be used during the school day Ã¢â‚¬â€œ including in the cafeteria area.
“That’s a little bit of a change,” he said. “They get in the way of instruction. That is something we’ve taken a position on and I know some of the kids last year they enjoyed being able to use them in the cafeteria. But, the spillover was such that the high school basically has taken a position that we’re not going to have it during the school day.”
The ninth grade orientation program is set for Sept. 3.
“It will be a great opportunity for parents and students to come in and see the school. We are making every effort for the cafeteria to be completed and we hope to showcase that,” Huckabee said. “The concept is an informal get-together for the ninth graders to come in and meet with the staff.”
One of the things he’s talked about with staff is visibility.
“When the children are out in the hallways, staff needs to be out in the hallways,” Huckabee said. “We want the students to understand that it’s time to get books and whatever they need from lockers and move through the hallways in a safe and orderly fashion and get into their classrooms.”
He said he expects teachers to be there greeting them. It’s something they will reinforce with students and staff as the year progresses.
“I told the assistant principals, we are a village. And it’s going to be the responsibility of everyone there to work together to provide the kinds of things that we want for the students of Oswego. It’s all of us working together to make sure that we have a great place for kids to learn in,” Huckabee said. “I see it as an exciting few months. We’ve got a big job to do. I hope that all of our staff will carry that enthusiasm that comes at opening day of school right through the whole year.”
Huckabee indicated that he isn’t planning on staying the entire school year.
The district hopes to name a permanent principal by the middle of October, according to Crist.
The superintendent sent out letters to parents and staff informing them of the changes going on in and around the school.
He said he is confident that the changes to the high school will be “positive and progressive” and he is anxiously awaiting the start of the new school year.