This 2019-20 school year, Fauquier High School underwent many changes made by new principal Kraig Kelican and the school administration. The most significant changes include those made to homeroom and hall passes. Morning homeroom now replaces last year’s midday advisory, and purple passes take the place of the old agendas and red block passes.
According to Kelican, the school moved advisory for numerous reasons. Advisory was originally set up for Standards of Learning (SOL) remediation, and for students to obtain the credits required for graduation. However, some students were not using the time constructively and often roamed the hallways and other areas they weren’t permitted to be in. Because of this, the administration met to discuss options to improve advisory productivity.
“The option that we were kind of leaning [towards] in the beginning was to completely eliminate the homeroom period or advisory,” said Kelican. “And take that time, and divide it into the four blocks. So, you would add like eight or nine minutes to each class, just eliminate homeroom altogether.”
However, this would mean the school would have to interrupt class for remediation, and travel students would lose class time as well. Therefore, the administration determined that moving homeroom to the beginning of the day was the best choice.
“It accommodates the travel kids. We had a huge problem with tardies to school last year. Many of the kids who were coming to school late were missing instruction in their first block class. Now they’re not missing the formal instruction,” said Kelican. “It also gives us the opportunity for anybody who has sports, after school activities, whatever time to make up work. So, it can still be used as a study hall.”
Since moving homeroom to the beginning of the day, the number of tardies and late arrivals to school has decreased significantly. Along with this, hall traffic significantly decreased during instructional time.
Kelican admits that the homeroom changes have their drawbacks, specifically regarding club meetings. However, he says those are things the school is currently working on in order to accommodate people who need that meeting time.
“We could have eliminated homeroom, and that would have completely eliminated any meeting of any type during the day.”
“It’s just taking some time to get everybody used to the system,” said Kelican.
The implementation of purple passes also caused commotion within the school. But, according to Kelican, the purple passes are no different than anything FHS has used before.
FHS originally issued agendas as passes, but students were not using them. Thousands of dollars were going down the drain; as a result, the school replaced the agendas with regular paper passes to save money.
“Either way you look at it, you’ve got to have a pass. [Without it] there’s no accountability of where kids are, and if we have any kind of emergency in the building, we have to account for everybody,” said Kelican.
The changes received both positive and negative feedback. One policy that caused chaos stated that clubs could no longer meet during homeroom. This change disappointed many students who are active within the school, and a petition initiated by seniors Kendon Sheppard and Bella Schaub began to circulate protesting against the policy.
“Once we heard that co-curricular clubs couldn’t have meetings during homeroom, that threw a wrench into all of our plans that we had for the year,” said Sheppard.
The two accumulated about 30 signatures before school staff shut down their operation, who informed Sheppard and Schaub that it was not a good idea to fight this.
While some students strongly dislike the changes, some find them more helpful than harmful which is the case for junior Camryn Bland.
“Coming to school, it’s really hard for me to wake up in the morning, so it’s a really good time for me to wake up,” said Bland.
Bland said that when she first found out about the changes, she thought that they were a very good idea. “I like the fact that they are trying to put their foot down… and make sure everyone’s in their place.”
However, Bland says she is not a fan of the purple passes. She said that originally she liked the idea. “It sounded like it was a good way to keep everyone in check and in order. But now, I feel like it’s chaotic, and teachers don’t really take it seriously and same with students.”
Teachers also expressed their feelings on the purple passes. For French teacher Nicole Goepper, the new form of passes proves to be a small inconvenience in her classroom.
“The bathroom is right across the hallway from my classroom. Yet, for consistency and compliance, I require my kids to take a pass, even though the bathroom is right across the hall.”
Still, Goepper says that she sees the advantages of the new pass system. “I do feel like there is a message, school-wide, that everybody is being held accountable, and it just seems to be pretty consistent,” said Goepper. “I have one laminated purple pass, so only one kid is out of the classroom at a time. So, I think it’s been helpful.”
To all of these reactions, Kelican says the biggest thing “is to just be patient. Let’s try to give it a chance. I think we’re heading in the right direction.”
By Rachel Singleton – Editor-in-Chief