WARE SCHOOL COMMITTEE NOTEBOOK
By Melissa Fales
Ware High School sophomore Karoline Delisle brought a petition signed by 200 students to the Sept. 28 School Committee meeting, asking for clarification as to what constitutes an “inappropriate display of affection” and what the district’s policy is on the issue. Delisle said she had been reprimanded several times at the school for “inappropriate display of affection” when teachers and administrators witnessed her and her boyfriend holding hands or hugging. Delisle said she couldn’t recall this type of rule ever being in place before, but said it was being strictly enforced this year by Principal Marlene DiLeo. “We students would like to know why hugging and hand-holding is inappropriate,” Delisle said. “It seems ridiculous to all of us.”
Delisle went on to say that the school bus she rides on picks up some younger students that attend St. Mary’s School. She said those younger students are often holding hands with their parents at the bus stop and give their parents a good-bye hug. “Is that inappropriate?” Delisle asked.
Policy subcommittee chair Danielle Souza invited Delisle to the subcommittee’s next meeting on Oct. 12 at 5:15 p.m. to discuss the matter. “We want to hear what you have to say,” Souza said, adding that she was “very impressed” with the way Delisle was addressing her concerns. Souza also noted that the subcommittee would seek input from DiLeo. DiLeo said she would be at the subcommittee meeting, and called Delisle’s bringing the matter forward “a great display of democracy.”
Superintendent Mary-Elizabeth Beach said she didn’t think there was a specific policy in place regarding “inappropriate display of affection,” but stated that principals have jurisdiction to stop behavior that is not conducive to education.
Committee member Aaron Sawabi thanked Delisle for bringing the issue forward. “We encourage any comments and concerns from citizens and students,” he said.
Committee updated on AP program at Ware High School
John A. Smolenski, Regional Director of the Massachusetts Math and Science Initiative (MMSI) gave the board an update on the Advanced Placement (AP) program at Ware High School.
The MMSI is an effort to get more high school students to take high-level courses, particularly in math and science, in order to prepare them for college success and ultimately, for careers in those fields. AP courses are college freshman-level classes offered in high school. Students can earn college credits for AP courses if they score well enough on the final exam. The MMSI is currently funded by grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Exxon/Mobil, among others.
Ware High School has offered AP courses for three years, and has been associated with the MMSI for the last two years. “Your kids here in Ware are challenging themselves,” Smolenski said, stating that not only had the number of students enrolled in AP courses increased since the MMSI partnered with Ware High School, but the number of AP courses offered and the number of students earning high scores on the AP test have also increased.
The MMSI assists schools with AP courses by offering professional development and mentoring for teachers and extra training for students.
Smolenski told the committee about the academic pep rally he led Sept. 14 at the school to get students excited about taking AP courses. Smolenski stated that colleges want to see students challenging themselves by taking AP classes and suggested that Ware High School consider adding an AP math class such as calculus or statistics. “They you’d have math, science and English; the big three,” he said.
Additionally, Smolenski said the MMSI would like to see more of the district’s low-income students taking AP classes. “Our goal is for the demographics of your high school to match the demographics of the AP classroom,” he said.
Since the funding for the MMSI is based on grants, Smolenski encouraged the committee members to contact their local and state representatives and ask them to support funding for the future of the MMSI program. “For us to continue to stay in Ware, we’re going to need some combination of state, federal and private funds,” said Smolenski.