Students, teachers react to “State of the School” address

Students and teachers on campus react to President Richard O’Hara’s “State of the School” address.

”Facilities well maintained with plan for future”

“It does look cleaner. [However], I don’t look around and say ‘there’s one less piece of trash.’ [In addition], the bathrooms seem cleaner.” -senior Emily Luft

“I think it looks cleaner because we have a staff now. I always see the staff at work, which really shows that we have people working to make the school cleaner.” -senior Greg Johnson

“It looks about the same. I don’t see any big difference.” -sophomore Marcus James

“There will be improvements made. Other than the hiring of a new facilities director [Stewart Walker] to oversee [the school], we still have improvements in the works. There might not be a lot of visible changes, but there are some plans that show improvement in the facilities. But do we have cushioned seats in every classroom? Not yet.” -Math teacher and member of the Board of Trustees Facilities Committee Claudia Reyerson

“Because I’m still relatively new, I’m still doing a lot of assessing. Typically, we assess different areas of facilities, plan, and then implement plans. One big goal is my personal philosophy: simplify, organize, [and] standardize. There are four main areas that we need to focus on: campus, maintenance, cleaning, building use, and targeted projects.” -Director of Facilities Stewart Walker

“Safe, healthy, inclusive, [and] purposeful climate”

“For the most part, we did very well [handling the H1N1 virus]. We had daily contact with the Health Department, checked the percentage of kids absent, and were never in the area of closing. There’s probably not much else [that could be done], to be honest. We rely on students to follow what we teach.” -Nurse Laura Frank

“Statistically, we may be more diverse, but in reality, those other cultures aren’t supported as intensely as that quote suggests. We don’t celebrate the cultures that much besides Native Americans and Chinese. The whole reason for Culture Shock is because we’re not celebrating different cultures, so I think that it’s a little misled. Having diverse students enrolled is not the same as supporting them. Higher statistics are not the same as better acknowledging diversity.”  -senior Alesia Etinoff, co-founder of Culture Shock.

“I don’t think so according to the numbers. Marijuana is less popular, but drinking is more popular. There are outlets here with JCAC [John Carroll Advisory Council]. Gold is more about promoting the message that other students are out there [not drinking] and you don’t have to feel pressured. We try to come up with alternate things to do, especially on weekends, and not just belabor the numbers game.” -Gold moderator Eric Sutton

“I think that people seriously misunderstood the chicken patty incident. People assumed that was the only reason they were expelled. Those students had a disciplinary history. That was the final straw.” -Guidance Counselor Larry Hensley

“For my sports teams, we haven’t even had team-up. We don’t even talk about it at all.”  -unnamed senior

“Some groups of people tend to get in trouble more easily than others.” -unnamed senior

“Catholic identity visible, integral, [and] active”

“We tried to make Catholic identity more evident [this year and through the strategic plan]. An example is John Carroll Day. There is an annual theme every year, the E-Updates start with a Scripture [passage], the Chapel is being moved to the front of the school [in the master plan]. [However], we can do better in our Catholic identity.” -Religion teacher and Catholic Mission Strategic Plan Committee member Dr. Christopher Yeung

“It depends on how you measure Catholic identity – it’s a pretty elusive term.” -Religion department chair and member of the Board of Trustees’ Catholic Mission Committee, Dr. Joseph Gallen

“There’s more to it [Catholic identity] than just being a good Catholic: it’s about being a good person.” -sophomore Rebecca Toskes

“The school is definitely trying to put religion in our everyday school activities. Most people think the Mass, service hours [requirements] and John Carroll Day is a big joke, but I think they are doing a good job.” -junior Chris Viers

“Sufficient technology  and information system”

“Gateway went out of business, but Mr. O’Hara probably means we’re past Gateway problems now that we’re using Lenovo. The Lenovo computers are a better machine all around [than Gateway because there are] no hinge or mother board problems with Lenovos. [In addition], we’re getting a trickle of Gateway parts from here and there. Kids also need to take better care of their computers [but] I’ll fix computers with rubber bands if I have to. I don’t believe in a no-win scenario.” -Help Desk Coordinator Joe Vitucci

“We continue to make adjustments in hopes of increasing performance. A reliable connection is important, seeing as every student has a laptop. Maintaining and upgrading the network is a gradual process. We have to be practical with the current economy. The reliable connectivity and performance of students on the network is certainly a high priority. We are planning upgrades, but we’re unsure of how extensive they will be. Ultimately, we want to move to an 802.11n network – it’s the latest wireless protocol. It would give us five times the [network/Internet] speed we currently have. However, it’s up to Mr. O’Hara how soon this upgrade will take place.” – Director of Technology Greg Russell

“People are still getting their computers fixed. I bring my own computer from home because I hate the school ones. The computer problems have gotten better, but I don’t think it will ever get to the point where there are no problems at all.” -senior Jess Georg

“I disagree [that we’re past computer problems]. There are still tons of problems. I don’t like the laptops, and I know a lot of other people don’t either, because they’re a hassle.” -sophomore Meghan Cunningham

“We’re definitely not past our computer problems. Mine just broke this weekend, and I didn’t even do anything to it. We should just get rid of [the computers] altogether.” -senior Reed Freedman

“[That we’re past our computer problems is] False. I’m just going to say false, that’s it.”  -unnamed senior

“I don’t think there’s any way that the underclassmen’s crappy laptops will last. They treat them badly too. Everybody gets a Mac. That’s the only way [we can solve our computer problems].”   -senior Katy Sheward

 

“Administration mission/brand driven with infrastructure to achieve goals”

“It [the branding] puts in a very specific statement who JC is, who we are. And it defines us so that we can make one statement and pretty much sum up what JC is. From one statement, I can talk about everything JC provides. It didn’t change who we are, it defined who we are. We can position ourselves in a better way now because we can define who we are. If we are sometimes struggling with vision, we can always go back to that statement, and that statement drives everything we do.” -Director of Communications Sue Cathell

“Growth oriented professional culture”

“Not being an education major, taking more education classes for my Master’s really helped me to learn more about my students and how they learn. I have a lot of people in my department that go to conferences, and I know a number of colleagues that have pursued Master’s or [have completed] recertification classes recently. I see the benefit of taking classes or attending conferences to improve.” -Foreign Language Chair Danica Zavodny

“The most frequent comment my department received was that teachers were ‘moving too fast and under-explaining.’ So, every teacher in the department, but especially those who received the complaints, began slowing down their lessons and explaining more. The English teachers were receptive to correcting problems, but most comments were really positive. I feel my department is pretty strong. Then again, I think overall we have a lot of good teachers at this school. The surveys had the potential to help. To me, a survey is always a good idea and a way to get honest input. The surveys were a good start for teacher evaluation.” -English department head Susan Fisher

“Well, I believe that some administrators need to be surveyed. I dislike how, regarding budget cuts, the faculty firing was targeted immediately at teachers.” -unnamed teacher

”Engaged students”

Yes, in comparison to the times when I was a student here. Today, I feel that we have more teachers devoted to the students and more students devoted to the classroom.” –unnamed teacher

“I think they have plans to make it better, like the Advisory Program. Starting next year, I really think the Advisory Program will make the whole experience at JC more personal for students.”   -Psychology teacher Dr. Paul Lazor

“It has definitely gotten better. Now that we’ve gotten younger teachers, it’s easier to connect with them.” -senior Caitlin Cross

“Yeah, it has definitely gotten better. I don’t think the younger kids are getting better about it though. I remember as a sophomore and junior, I just screwed around on my computer all class.” -senior Seth Hinder

“Yes, when I was a student here, I didn’t talk to my teachers outside of class.” –unnamed teacher

“Enrollment growth/waiting lists”

“We’re looking at new marketing techniques inclusive of new technology, such as using quicker response time to inquiries, and the potential to schedule shadow days online. Hopefully, when the economy turns around and BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) sends new people to Harford County, enrollment will increase.” -Director of Admissions Kim Brueggemann

Kate Froehlich can be reached for comment at [email protected]

Mollyann Pais Can be reached for comment at [email protected]

Alex Bahr can be reached for comment at [email protected]

Gabby Joseph can be reached for comment at [email protected]

Charlotte Hagerman can be reached for comment at [email protected]