EYE OF THE TIGER’S VIEW: A look at the reinvented Roseville




Within the last two years and since the arrival of current principal David Byrd, Roseville High School established a distinct path for its future. Eye of the Tiger’s editorial board stepped back to analyze the shifting parts making a new whole.

Staff changes
In the 2015-16 school year, RHS introduced new yearbook and drama advisors and saw transitioning assistant principal, band director and activities directors. While activities director Lindsey Parker left on her own accord, RHS deliberately made the other moves, with the aim of bringing in fresh blood to revitalize programs.

This medium for rebuilding has produced mixed results.

When news broke of their displaced program director, the band community rallied behind Mark Toffelmier, demanding further rationale behind his dismissal and admin’s vision for the program’s future. In a later statement, admin explained they were looking to revitalize the VAPA department and recently introduced the new director for the 2016-17 school year, Matt Koutney.

We respect the intentions of these reforms, but admin must consider inevitable uncertainty with significant staff transitions.

If it wasn’t obvious before, the band community’s frustration underscores how critical communication and transparency are when addressing the concerns of those involved in transitioning programs. And ultimately, leadership swaps aren’t one-and-done means to an end. To bring about positive change, long-term commitment must come from admin and the programs themselves.

Programs like drama saw successes this year. Under a new program director, drama has shown marked improvement, consistently drawing higher attendance at performances. Sometimes programs need a new set of eyes, and other times something entirely different. One-size-fits-all approaches can fall short of expectations.

Reformation should begin with the current staff member, only bringing in fresh hands after bringing all voices to the table – admin, staff, students, parents.

AP push and electives
In the 2015-16 school year, a record 888 RHS students took an AP exam. RHS admin pushed this trend along, as they aim to have every RHS student complete an AP course before they graduate. The push is one piece of the Roseville Joint Union High School District puzzle – RJUHSD added 650 AP or IB students in the 2014- 15 school year. Further, these district numbers reflect national
trends looking to increase AP enrollment across all demographics.

All students should be encouraged to pursue academic excellence, and policy should account for a growing base of AP students. A rising tide raises all boats, and reasonably heightened expectations should improve the lot of RJUHSD students.

However, greater emphasis on AP classes often distracts from electives and other programs aiming to provide students with diverse experiences. Balance opportunities for academic success with outlets for students to put their passions to work.

Electives provide all brands of students with various interests, real-world experience to support future career success. Academic class don’t replicate this type of learning as effectively. Continually, admin must check the benefits of AP rigor with the critical experiences of electives. RHS has to pursue a balance.

Project Lead the Way
This year marked the pilot for PLTW and introduced courses that provide career technical education for students pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) -related careers. We support programs like Intro to Engineering and Principles of Biomedical Science. Students of all kinds should have the opportunity to explore electives relating to their interests.

The exit of Geometry in Construction lessened opportunity for students interested in the STEM field. The expansion of PLTW provides such students with technical training relevant to their pursuits.

While PLTW is still developing and may not have tangible results to point to, the ability to provide experience and potential to incite passion makes the school’s decision to get behind the pathway a laudable one.

AVID remains
The preliminary budget RJUHSD presented at its May 10th school board meeting compares AVID funding from 2015-16 to estimated expenses in 2016-17. Despite Oakmont High School dropping the AVID program next school year and leaving RHS as the sole AVID site in the district, allocated funds increased slightly from $37,325 to $37,837.

In a perfect world, all programs could grow side-by-side unhindered by one another, but in reality they will have compete for funding and enrollment. RHS needs to balance its support for burgeoning programs with its support for a program that other district schools continue to phase out.

Intervention period
This year, admin proposed an intervention period for the 2016- 17 school year. The 27-minute period looks to aid struggling students, providing time for additional instruction in problem classes. Other students would attend one of three common learning areas for a study hall period.

In the spring of 2011, staff voted to discontinue PAWS, a similarly structured intervention period. At the time, students and faculty attributed the program’s failure to inadequate planning.

This year, admin seems prepared to learn from their mistakes, given their call for input during their recent pitch to teachers.

An intervention period has the potential to raise ill-performing students. For the adjusted schedule to make a positive change, student and staff will all need to buy into the initiative.

The 2014-15 school year saw the introduction of R.O.A.R. (Respectful, On Task, Aware, and Responsible) – a set of positive behavioral guidelines for students. An emphasis on R.O.A.R. continued on into this year, and it is time to stop lecturing about its values and watch the program’s results.

An occasional rally, spirit week or mural will serve as friendly reminders of these values, but for R.O.A.R to prove its value, it should begin producing a more tangible sense of what is and is not acceptable. Staff must stand as an example for students in their actions. At this point, the tickets and acronyms on the walls have lost their power. Teachers are the model for RHS tradition and values.

Going forward
If RHS is to continue moving in a positive direction, we would be wise to maintain the mindset that Byrd brought when he arrived: “I’ve got to approach this as a learner.” RHS has a 103-year history with longstanding staff members who continue to call this school home. If RHS is crafting a fresh image, it must remember its roots and utilize the experience and wisdom it stands upon.

When Byrd arrived in the 2014- 15 school year, he inherited certain set of circumstances. And since his landing, he he begins to point the school in a new direction, initiating many changes of his own. But regardless of who instigates specific changes, Byrd and the rest of staff share a responsibility over the effects of any transitions. We head down a distinct path. It is important that we consider our past when planning our future.