High schoolers are headed back to the hallways, classrooms, gymnasium, cafeteria, and fields of Mahwah High this week. According to MHS Principal John Pascale, students and their families have a lot of new experiences to look forward to this year.
College Credits And Classes
New classes kids can take include two Advanced Placement courses – Music Theory and U.S. History – for which students can earn college credit. The “” elective will also be offered, and is another area in which students can scoop up some early college credits.
The ACE College Credit Program, through which students can earn college credits for taking foreign language proficiency exams, is back at MHS for the second year in a row. According to Pascale, students can sign up to take the tests, which include an oral, over-the-phone portion, and are awarded a number of credits based on how they perform on the exam.
“We had a number of students who earned credits this way last year, and we are happy to be able to offer it again this year,” he said.
The two foods and consumer sciences classes that were a part of the high school curriculum last year will not be offered this year. The change is part of a board of education district-wide decision made earlier this year. At the time, the board explained the change as one that would help Mahwah schools focus on teaching “21st Century skills."
New Technologies And Building Adjustments
The principal said that a number of LCD multimedia presentation screens were purchased and installed in HS classrooms. Many of the new screens, which were paid for through a combination of stimulus money and grants from the Mahwah Schools Foundation, were installed in special education classrooms.
Students will also notice some new physical aspects of the school – from new concrete in the front of the building, to new flooring in the auditorium, and in all of the backstage classrooms. The school also finished its re-upholstering sections of the auditorium seating.
“We also did a lot of work on the varsity baseball field; we redid the whole infield, the pitcher’s mound and the baselines, so that is also exciting,” Pascale said.
Though the high school did not add any teaching positions this year, several teachers did leave or retire last year, so there will be a few new educators in the building this year.
A new English supervisor, French teacher, math teacher, and library media specialist will replace people who left those positions.
“Due to discontinuing the foods program, I was also able to increase a part-time business teacher and part-time English teacher we had to full-time positions without increasing staff,” Pascale said.
Advice For Incoming Freshmen
According to Pascale, the transition from eighth grade to high school is often one that can be “anxious,” for kids and their families. He says the school has a few safe guards in place to help new students through the difficult adjustment.
The freshmen advisory program, which every freshman student is required to participate in, is a year-long program in which kids meet in small groups once a week with two upperclassmen and two members of the faculty. Each week, a different topic – from study skills, note taking and plagiarism to after-school activities and how to get involved in the school – is discussed. The goal, Pascale said is to ease the transition, and have the older kids become like big brothers and sisters to the new students.
Mr. Pascale’s advice to his newest class of students: “I would say relax, and get through one day at a time. Get involved in activities and athletics, and use this as a fresh start in terms of your academics. Keep up with your studies and homework, and there are teachers, administrators, staff and counselors here to support and help you.”