Algonquin roundup: New administrators profiled and new enforcement of old school policies

Above: It’s time to share more news on the district’s public high school. (photo by Susan Fitzgerald)

I’m overdue on sharing some of the news I’ve come across about Algonquin Regional High School this fall. So, it’s time for another roundup. This one will focus on coverage of the administration team.

It includes a story that shows some rankle among students over what the administration calls “consistent” enforcement of old school policies.

T-Hawk nation welcomes new principal – Community Advocate:

This year, ARHS has a new administrative team. In October, CA ran a profile on the new principal

Sara Pragluski Walsh, Ed.D., feels fortunate to wake up every morning and to go to work in a field that she truly loves. . .

Her personal objective to learn the Algonquin way is keeping her busy. An advantage was the extensive interviewing process, which gave her many insights to the community as she met with students, parents, educators, staff and administrators. . .

Her priorities include the well-being of the students, to look at systematic concerns, and to continue good practices with consistency. Areas needing improvements will give her the opportunity to think out of the box and to create moments for team building. (read more)

It looks like she has followed through on the “consistency” issue. Last week, the school’s newspaper ran a story on her response to students upset over what they perceived as policy changes.

Walsh administration renews pre-existing policies – The Harbinger:

New year, new administration, new rules. At least, that is what most of the student body seems to think. However, according to Principal Sara Pragluski Walsh, these rules have existed long before her arrival to Algonquin.

“There is a potential misconception or misperception that there is this major drastic change… That’s not true,” Walsh said. “We’ve tried to be consistent; us as an administrative team are trying to be fair and consistent in our message… You’re treated the same way by all of the same individuals.”

In alignment with her promotion of consistency, Walsh and the rest of the administration team are striving to ensure all rules are enforced the same way for all students. According to Assistant Principal Andrew McGowan, the team aspect of the faculty has been a benefit to everyone being on the same page. . .

Of the rules themselves, the bathroom policy has generated concern among students due to the inconvenience of having to sign out of class, fill out a hall pass and sign into the bathroom. . .

“There were passes before I came to Algonquin,” Walsh said. “There were bathroom logs before I came to Algonquin. All we’re asking is that we’re consistent about it, that every educator and faculty member do the same practice for the safety and well-being of all of our children.”

According to Walsh, these rules are also set in place to curb bad behavior in some instances.

“There were specific safety concerns that parents brought up and students brought up, some being about items or locations or events not being monitored,” Walsh said. “There is a small group of children making poor choices, whatever they may be. What we’ve tried to do is set that level of consistency so that if you’re going to make a poor choice, you’re going to have a consistent repercussion.”

Similar to the bathroom policy, some students take issue with the more stringent late policy that can result in detentions or In School Suspensions (ISS). According to English teacher Seth Czarnecki, rules such as this are necessary to mimic the real-world consequences of lacking timeliness. (read more)

Former physical education teacher Andrew McGowan hopes to spread influence as new assistant principal – The Harbinger:

Earlier, the school newspaper profiled one of the new APs. (That story also references the new/old rules.)

After over a decade of working at Algonquin, physical education teacher Andrew McGowan decided to broaden his influence on the school community and assumed the role of assistant principal. . .

“The whole thing is kind of a learning process, nothing unexpected though,” McGowan said. “I did my homework going into it.”

McGowan hopes to utilize his new position to bring about improvements to the school that he previously didn’t have the chance to make. . .

Some of these changes are already becoming visible and beginning to affect the school.

“There’s a few new rules, In-School Suspension is something new, the tardy policy is something that’s a little tighter,” McGowan said. “But most of the rules that people see as being new are rules that have actually been in the handbook for years and it’s just a matter of holding students accountable.” (read more)

McDonald excited to join school administration

And last month, they interviewed the other new AP.

New Assistant Principal Tim McDonald already feels welcome in Algonquin’s environment and is encouraged by how well he has been received by the school’s community.
“I’m kind of surprised by how well I seem to fit in here and how welcoming everyone’s been; it was a pleasant surprise,” McDonald said. “Everyone’s been really nice.”. . .

“There’s a great spirit and pride in Algonquin and in the kids here, and in being T-hawks,” McDonald said. “It’s great to see that so many kids are participating in so many different activities. There’s a lot of different opportunities here, and that’s been one of [the] greatest things. It’s a very well-rounded culture.” (read more)

Interim athletic director Fran Whitten hopes to provide positive experiences for athletes – The Harbinger:

The paper also profiled the AD back in September.

Fran Whitten has returned as interim athletic director, after the resignation of former athletic director Karrah Ellis over the summer.

“When [Ellis] resigned, they were in a very difficult spot, because it was the beginning of August, and they didn’t really have time to post and hire a new athletic director, so they called and asked me if I would come back on an interim basis so I’m back doing what I used to do for 16 years,” Whitten said. . .

According to Whitten, his objective is not to make changes in the athletic department due to his temporary position. However, he plans to run the athletic department however he feels comfortable to when he previously worked as the athletic director.

“I formed an athletic council,” Whitten said. “I think that that no longer exists so I’m going to bring that back.” (read more)

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Mike Fuce
5 years ago

I just want to say first of all I would not address them as children. They are young adults fully capable of making rational decisions. Second, and I don’t know if this is true, but my kids have told me over the years, they literally are smoking dope in the bathrooms. So I support the entire administration in keeping the entire school safe from the few young adults who always will break the rules. Congratulations to all of off on staff.

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