Constant balance

Changes made to Paws on the Wall, attendance, pep rallies and parking lots to improve school

Upon Principal Mary Williams’ arrival at the school two years ago, she set about learning the system, familiarizing herself with the students and the staff, and settling in. Constantly striving to improve existing programs with advice from faculty, she aimed to make the school a better place to learn and make memories.

Contrary to the belief that she has aimed at taking away favorite activities, Williams has actually used the mantra “How can we do this better?” to guide her modifications.

A tradition she wants to improve is Paws on the Wall. This is an event where seniors leave their handprints on the wall in the cafeteria during Homecoming week. Over the summer though, the decision was made at a Parent-Teacher-Student-Association meeting to transition Paws on the Wall from the wall to a banner.

Due to having the cafeteria professionally repainted for a conference hosted over the summer, it was decided that a banner would make more sense because of its ability to last beyond one year before having to be painted over.

“It was a tradition of our school [starting from] when [it] opened, and it’s kind of sad to see it go right when I was a senior,” senior Annalycia Franklin said.

Despite the change, the banner will serve a purpose more than just hanging on the cafeteria wall for a year and then going into storage. The banner’s portability will allow it to travel with students to pep rallies, games and various other places around campus.

“[This decision] satisfies both things: it keeps our cafeteria looking nice and professional and a place where kids will want to eat and also keeps the tradition of the Paws on the Wall going,” Williams said.

This year’s Paws on the Wall event is set for Oct. 20.

Other events undergoing modifications are pep rallies. Guided by fond memories of her own high school pep rallies at Lake Brantley High School, Williams has worked with a group of advisers to balance safety and fun without taking up a tremendous amount of class time.

“The goal of pep rallies is that kids have fun, but safe fun so they create memories that stay with them a lifetime,” Williams said.
Williams also consulted with science teacher Marc Pooler to operate a decibel meter to decide who wins the spirit stick. The decibel meter has helped to fairly decide which class is the loudest.

“[We just want] to have a really fun event, get kids super excited and get healthy competition among classes,” Williams said.

Roller coaster ride. Senior student section leaders Zach Navicky, Josh Mohammed and Brenden Carillo lead students in the Roller Coaster activity at the Sept. 11 pep rally.
photo by Kacy Lach
Roller coaster ride. Senior student section leaders Zach Navicky, Josh Mohammed and Brenden Carillo lead students in the Roller Coaster activity at the Sept. 11 pep rally.

As well as the two pep rallies on Sept. 11 and 25, the last one is the Husky Rumble, a night pep rally during Homecoming week. Depending on how all of the events go, there is a possibility of adding more pep rallies later.

These two changes were not the only impression Williams has left on the school. In her first year here in 2013, Williams made changes to the attendance policy to allow students a specific number of excused and unexcused absences with chances to make them up. By enforcing the attendance, there was a noticeable, steady incline of improvement in test scores.

At the end of the school year last year, the decision was made to make each class count for the same number of absences whether it is a block day or silver day.
In addition to the attendance, Williams worked with athletic director Jay Getty and assistant principals Christi Bryce and Michael Howard on improving the efficiency of parking. This resulted in assigned numbers for student parking, which caused an increase in traffic on the parent pick-up/drop-off side. Due to more parents dropping off kids along with students having parking in both lots, there was constant, slow traffic.

To speed up the process, administrators were situated in various places around the lot directing the flow of cars and police officers were positioned on Lockwood in the morning to guide parents.

Between Paws on the Wall, pep rallies, attendance and the parking lots there were certainly some major changes, but whether they were good or bad changes is up to each individual. Despite this, it cannot be denied that Williams has definitely shaken things up

“There is a constant balance between too little and too much,” Williams said.