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October 16, 2023 (Minutes)


Monday, October 16, 2023  ~  3:30 pm  ~  FHS Library

Our meeting opened at 3:30 pm

Present: Paula Carlson Cahill, Merrie Beth Dodge, Mike Feeney, Rebecca Gonzales, Alan Harris, Mananjo Jonahson, Alexis Marathas, Paula Smith

Dr. Harris welcomed us all, we introduced ourselves, and Dr. Harris shared some of  his experience and history.

Student Government and Membership:  There are no students present because although we are mandated to hold the first council meeting within a time frame set by the state, the first meeting of student government is tomorrow. Mike let us know that we have 102 student government members: the most in 15 yrs!

Dr. Harris described the clear expectations of what success looks like including what to wear; being present in class; continuing the relentless pursuit of bathroom excellence; implementation of the E-Hall pass system.

Co-chair:  Paula Smith was nominated and voted in to return as co-chair.

We approved the Agenda for the meeting.  Each meeting, the School Council secretary will type minutes, which the Principal and Co-Chair will review, edit, and approve. Those minutes will be brought to the next meeting for council’s review & approval, and once approved - the minutes will be posted to the FHS website

We reviewed Council Procedural Issues and Purpose:

Past members and Dr. Harris spoke about the purpose of the School Council; about what we are doing; how the community can get involved - we will generate ideas about how to make FHS more desirable compared to other high schools; emphasize our advisory piece; ask for feedback and new ideas. We all come from different backgrounds and employment, we’re all invested in what happens at FHS. Our meetings in March and May are so valuable - the students have been in school, have heard what we’re trying to do, and it is particularly helpful in March to hear what you are curious about, and what to improve.

Last year - we had the sense that we have opportunities but needed work on how we bring those to the community and make them accessible. One result is in the shift of adding honors classes.

Our January meeting will be at Lawrence School. Paula C will send an email reminder. We will meet at 5:00 pm, prior to the joint budget presentation by the superintendent.

MA Conflict of Interest Law: all members must complete. If you took it last year, simply acknowledge receipt of the summary of the law.  If you need help accessing the law, please use the links in the agenda.

Relentless pursuit of bathroom excellence and being present in class was discussed, with note that vape detectors are in use in the bathrooms.

A Cell phones/devices/ear buds policy was processed with teachers  before implementing. It’s clear cell phones are a distraction from engagement. We saw three possible approaches: 1. leave it as is;  2. look at other schools - lockers to lock them up all day; 3.  expectation that devices are off of their person when in the classroom. #3 was selected by a good margin.

Over the summer, Alan and Mike met and processed with student leadership. Changes work better when they come from students. On the first day of school, teachers presented these in homerooms & senior leaders presented these in class meetings and emphasized that this is what we believe is best for our school.

E-Hall pass - this was processed in spring with teachers and all but three said they wanted to implement. We didn’t start it on the first day - we waited to see what it looked like for the first month and started it two weeks ago.  Alan introduced Alexis Marathas, Assistant Principal, who described the start up of the E-Hall pass system, and how it allows for conversation/adjustment when patterns emerge. There’s a max number allowed in each bathroom at a time, so teachers can see if a bathroom is not available at a given time. Discussion ensued about the new system. Including what if some students just have a hard time sitting still all class, asking us to be sure we are looking at the students as individuals. Alexis described how now we can see whether a break/walk is or isn’t working - and have the student talk with their counselor about what other options are available. The system helps us to start to know student behavior, to see who may need intervention, and shows numbers - perhaps some students do not realize how much class they are missing. We have already seen a decrease in time out of class. Alan let us know that the adjustment counselors wrote a grant for a treadmill with biofeedback tools which can help their work on regulation strategies like walks/self-reflection.

Alan spoke of how appreciative he is of Dr. Duerr and Dr. Tellier and our district - that each school has goals and a plan, and that as a district we are committed to excellence for every student every day, to meet every student where they are and to personal excellence. We work on what that looks like every day, even in little nuanced ways - for example, the bell would ring at 7:22 - when students are supposed to be in class, and at that time we would close the front door and then students enter through the next door, and are marked tardy (four tardies equals a detention). We were closing the door when they were already late into the classroom, so now the entry bell rings at 7:19 - which gives students three minutes to get to class - after 7:19, they enter through the next door and are marked tardy. During lunch, Alan talked with one student about getting here 3 minutes earlier to avoid being tardy, and now that student is usually on time. Most of the time students will rise to the expectation we have for them.

Please take time to review the School Handbook (Student Handbook / Student Handbook) and email Paula your edits and/or questions.

Merrie Beth requested that we include Endowments on our future topic list.  Alan will ask Dr. Duerr about the implications for the town, the schools, the grounds.

The idea of a late start was brought up again - we have looked into this / researched this previously, as a Council and as a district.

Mananjo asked if we could have more Guest Chefs (like when Pickle Jar came in) during our advisory?  Alan told us that out of that visit came a couple of student leaders who have met with Assistant Principal Tom McManamon, Kaitlin Hackett - our culinary leader who runs Clipper Cafe and Lori Marks, our food service leader and are working on how to increase options for students at breakfast and lunch and to bring in guest chefs. They are also working on a new student center - updating the library with new furniture and a more college student union type feel. We could have Mr. McManamon come talk about these changes. Mananjo said it’s a huge motivation to have good food and asked what our budget is like since the state is paying for food? Alan said that while that is great, it comes with  constraints on what we can serve and how much it can cost.

Mananjo asked how do we deal with AI and chatbots - how do we adjust learning to AI and how do we and the students use it, regulate it? This is a big topic that many districts are struggling with. Alan thinks this may be a broader district question and will talk with Dr. Duerr and will answer at a future meeting. Paula S suggested perhaps a staff information session on this topic.

Merrie Beth asked about opioid education. Alan stated that vape is the entry substance by a large margin. We held a community forum with a doctor who worked with athletes and other speakers and hope to have more. We see a really heavy dependence on vaping as primary. We do a good job finding students, education and involving family. It is a serious addictive behavior that needs lots of community support to try to get at it. We are working to create helpful partnerships. Merrie Beth asked if narcan is available. Alan confirmed it is and that the town is  looking at putting it in municipal buildings. There is narcan in the FHS Health Office. Merrie Beth would like to see it out with students, that they are less likely to use it the more they know about it, the more we can do the better. Alan said Barnstable County is collecting data on how to respond and will share this with Suzie Hauptmann. The county is looking at next steps. We will share Suzie’s contact info with Merrie Beth - which is:

With Alan’s thanks, we adjourned at 4:25 pm