by Brianna Ford
For the 2015-2016 school year, many adjustments have been made to Stuart High School. Principal Penny Gros, who was hired mid-April of last school year, is certainly steering the school in a new direction. The first major change was the installment of cameras in every hallway. Last year, the school encountered multiple unscheduled fire alarms; however, the student(s) guilty of pulling the alarm never got identified. The cameras have been implemented to prevent more incidents like this one, and also stand as a safety precaution.
Another change that affected the Stuart faculty and students was the new start times. Previously, school began at 7:20 a.m. and concluded at 2:00 p.m. This year, we have been pushed back nearly an hour, beginning at 8:10 and ending at 2:55 p.m. The most prominent schedule shift was adding a 45 minute block for third period every day after first or second period. Instead of having an hour and a half for return periods like preceding years, the time has now been shortened to a 30 minute class right after third period.
Last year, students had 8 classes on their schedule, one being homeroom, or L.A. Previously, this class was scheduled during fourth period, but has been removed from the schedule this year. Overall, the different times and the many changes will take some getting used to. Students and teachers are still adjusting to the new bell schedule, but many believe these changes have been beneficial to the school. “The new schedule allows for instructional time to be used more productively,” says Brandon Sutphin, P.E. and Driver’s Ed teacher.
Two new administrators have joined the Raider community, as well as two new Deans of students. Mary Brady, a new Dean of students, has been working with students to improve attendance, help with discipline and administration. “Anyway we can help out, we’re always happy to. I’m looking forward to getting to know all of the students and staff,” says Brady.
This year, many additional police officers can be seen patrolling the Stuart grounds. Their purpose is to promote safety; however some students feel the amount of officers has now become excessive, which creates an untrusting environment. Seniors in particular have expressed apprehension towards these rapid readjustments. Senior SGA officer and Captain of the cheerleading team Layla Fawaz says, “It’s a lot different here with all the new security guards. We have less freedom and it feels more like a middle school now.” The newest member of the security team is Leonard Reynolds, who joined the Stuart staff in early October. His position title is Assistant Safety Security Specialist. After previously working as a detective for the FCPD, Reynolds is here to ensure a safe environment for students.
Another noticeable change for the students has been the population increase. While the school’s population rapidly increases, the hallways and classrooms have undeniably shrunk. Numerous computer labs were replaced by classrooms, and rooms located in the library are now being used to accommodate the overwhelming amount of students. Walking through the main hallway in between classes is nightmarish, simply because it’s way too crowded. In a recent press conference, Superintendent Karen Garza commented on Stuart’s population, saying that we are one of the next schools on the renovation list. She also hinted at adding a third floor to relieve overpopulation.
The past few years, it’s been quite easy to park in the main lot without actually buying the parking pass. The reason why many students are hesitant, and consequently end up parking along the street, is because the fee for a parking pass is immense. Per quarter, the pass is $50, which means you pay $200 for just one year. This price is higher than most universities charge their students to park on campus. Seniors have concluded that free/reduced parking should be offered as one of the senior privileges. The notion doesn’t seem too improbable, seeing as there are always multiple parking spaces available.
The modifications being made have sparked many different reactions, but we can all agree that the school has made a big leap in comparison to previous year. Only time will tell whether these alterations have had a positive effect on the school.