New year, new administration, new rules. At least, that is what most of the student body seems to think. However, according to Principal Sara Pragluski Walsh, these rules have existed long before her arrival to Algonquin.
“There is a potential misconception or misperception that there is this major drastic change… That’s not true,” Walsh said. “We’ve tried to be consistent; us as an administrative team are trying to be fair and consistent in our message… You’re treated the same way by all of the same individuals.”
In alignment with her promotion of consistency, Walsh and the rest of the administration team are striving to ensure all rules are enforced the same way for all students. According to Assistant Principal Andrew McGowan, the team aspect of the faculty has been a benefit to everyone being on the same page.
“We work together and bounce ideas off of each other and discuss what’s going on pretty frequently, and I think that’s a big part of it, the administration working together, but the administration working with the department chairs and the teachers, too, because really everyone is involved in this,” McGowan said.
Of the rules themselves, the bathroom policy has generated concern among students due to the inconvenience of having to sign out of class, fill out a hall pass and sign into the bathroom.
“I think some of the new policies are a little unnecessary…it’s very inconvenient, especially with the bathroom,” junior Natalie Bourque said.
In response to these sentiments, Walsh again emphasizes the importance of setting the same expectations.
“There were passes before I came to Algonquin,” Walsh said. “There were bathroom logs before I came to Algonquin. All we’re asking is that we’re consistent about it, that every educator and faculty member do the same practice for the safety and well-being of all of our children.”
According to Walsh, these rules are also set in place to curb bad behavior in some instances.
“There were specific safety concerns that parents brought up and students brought up, some being about items or locations or events not being monitored,” Walsh said. “There is a small group of children making poor choices, whatever they may be. What we’ve tried to do is set that level of consistency so that if you’re going to make a poor choice, you’re going to have a consistent repercussion.”
Similar to the bathroom policy, some students take issue with the more stringent late policy that can result in detentions or In School Suspensions (ISS). According to English teacher Seth Czarnecki, rules such as this are necessary to mimic the real-world consequences of lacking timeliness.
“I think there should be penalties for being late,” Czarnecki said. “In the real world you need to be on time, or else you will be penalized either through discipline through your boss, or loss of a job, and I think that a stricter tardy policy will just streamline our operations at the school.”
Even though some students might disagree with the reinforcement of these renewed policies, the administrative team is open to student opinions to continue to make the most beneficial choices for the school.
“What I think is really important at this juncture is that we take the time to continue the conversations and at the end of the day make a decision in the best interest of our kids,” Walsh said.
At the end of the day, Walsh’s main target is to continue improving Algonquin, whether that be by enforcing rules, expanding technology or bolstering extracurriculars.
“My hopes this year are to take the things that define Algonquin’s excellence and sustain them, while improving the items that were thematically a concern… that we look at a best practice, we tweak the practice, and we make it consistent,” Walsh said.