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October 24, 2011

posted Nov 21, 2011, 10:19 AM by Jeffrey Snyder

AHS  Parent Newsletter October 24, 2011

Hello to all Parents and Guardians,

This newsletter will be brief so I can attack the pile of college recommendations that are sitting next to me.  Many students are facing a November 1 deadlines and the clock is ticking away.

Ned Walsh, our new SRO, began working with us today. He spent the day walking the building getting to know students and staff.  He is very motivated to do a great job and I am thrilled to have him on our team.

Health and Safety Day was a big success. Our speaker, Michael Fowlin, was dynamic and presented several very compelling skits through the perspectives of a variety of characters, especially those that tend to be victims. The key theme of the event was to show that bullying, taunting, making fun of, talking about others on the Internet, etc  had significant effects on the victims.  Although we had the entire school in the gym at the same time for this presentation, there were times when the only sound you heard was the voice of Michael’s characters.  It was wonderful.  Following the presentation, students participated in follow-up discussions in their Advisories.  Staff reported out that the discussions were great with very thoughtful comments by our students.

Recent Thefts
As many of you heard, we had a series of thefts in the football locker room in recent weeks.  The first two thefts were single instances of items taken out of unlocked lockers. The third theft (described  on the news) was a blatant, calculated theft by a person or persons who knew the team had items stored in lockers during a game.  
Thefts have been occurring in our school in all parts of the building, because the opportunity is there. This is due to a number of reasons.  The most common reason is that students leave items unattended and walk away. Or they leave gym bags on the floor or on benches and come back to find their bags have been vandalized.  Some leave items in the lockers but do not lock them. 

But thefts also occur when items are locked in lockers.

We have an old school with doors and lockers that are in poor condition.  If someone really wants to break in and steal, they can and they will.  With money being tight over the past several years, we have been able to make some updates in the building but not enough to become theft proof.  We also know that there are a number of students and others who have obtained keys to the building and interior doors (stolen I assume).  The other big problem we have is that we have a big building with about 75 exterior doors. No sooner do we lock the doors, someone is propping them open with sticks, etc…   There are also multiple groups using the building which provides easy access to the building during our off school hours.  Because of this, we have been playing cat and mouse with our thieves and it is very frustrating.
We began investigating solutions to this problem about eight months ago. Some doors were replaced and/or fixed. Some locks have been changed.  We also created the following plan last spring:
  • Install three key lock systems (two were in place and we are waiting for a third to be installed)
  • Program a key card for all staff, coaches, and maintenance/custodial staff
  • Change all exterior locks in the entire building.

We have finished programming the cards and are handing them out this week. Exterior locks will be changed soon after that.  
The locks on the three football locker room doors have been changed so that only coaches and maintenance staff have access.
Over the summer, we took steps to involve the police when students and others were trespassing.  We will continue to do this.   We are also requesting additional cameras to monitor areas that have become problematic.  Another solution we are investigating is replacement of lockers and exterior doors but that will be very costly.  
As I mentioned in an earlier newsletter, we strongly recommend that students do not bring valuable items to school.  We just cannot guarantee their safety.  Hopefully we will eventually find ways to reduce the number of thefts, but we will never be able to stop them completely. It is a sad statement that reflects the world we live in, unfortunately.
I will be meeting with parents of the football team on Thursday, October 27, from 6:00 - 6:20 PM but I welcome any parents who want to come to discuss this problem. I will have to end at 6:20 as I am on the School Committee agenda at 6:30. The meeting will take place in the Conference room adjacent to my office.
Upcoming Events and Dates

November 8    Club Day   
All students will attend a “Club Fair” during per  5 or 6  where they will visit displays of each of the Clubs offered at AHS. Students can ask questions about the club activities and may sign-up for any of them that interest them at that time.

October 28       Last Day to change courses
November 1     Professional Day  No school for students
November 2      Registration for Parent Conferences begins
November 4     Term 1 Ends
November  9, 10, 14, 15, 16  MCAS retests   Math and ELA
November 11    Veterans Day    No School
November 15     School Council Meeting  5:30
November 16 and 21  Parent Conferences
November 18    Day of Dialog  Gr. 9     Assembly   Per 2   6:00 – 8:00 PM

Have a great week!
Mary