Administration navigates construction project starting in coming weeks, discussions surrounding next school year

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Principal Tom Harmas sits at his desk, holding the book Grading for Equity. He said that this book has helped him gain a better understanding of how grades should reflect student growth. He said that administration has been working throughout this year to make changes to the grading system so that grades are a true representation of a student’s learning and engagement throughout the semester.

Rhea Acharya

Principal Tom Harmas said he is currently working to finalize some of the details for the school’s upcoming multi-part construction project that will take place over the next couple of years.

He said that the first part of the project will start this spring with the transformation of the grass area across from Murray Stadium into a parking lot. According to Harmas, this will allow the natatorium renovations to expand into the space where the current parking lot across from Murray Stadium now sits.

Harmas said that the next phase of construction will start in June 2021 and will focus on expanding and renovating the performing arts area and the Dale E. Graham Auditorium. He said that he anticipates this phase to finish by the end of the first semester of the 2021 to 2022 school year. Due to this, he said that administration is currently working with the performing arts department to develop a plan for where the affected performing arts classes will take place during the renovations next semester.

In addition to figuring out the logistics of the construction, Harmas said he continues to be discussing plans for the next school year, especially in regard to whether the instruction in the fall will be fully in-person or have virtual components. He said that he has recently been invited to join the Virtual Options Study Committee, where he will help discuss various options for next year.

He said, “I don’t make the final decisions. Only the school board with the recommendation of the superintendent will make those decisions. But looking at the current trends, it looks very favorable that we’ll be able to go back full-time next year.”

According to Harmas, within this committee, the members will also be discussing the possibility of having some virtual or hybrid classes in future years for seniors—even if the rest of the instruction is all fully in-person—to help strengthen their executive functioning skills.

Senior Melissa Su, a fully-virtual student, said, “I think being virtual has helped me improve my time management by making me more efficient in getting my work done. But in terms of the positive benefits of having optional virtual classes in the future, I think it depends on the person. Some people can improve their time management with virtual classes, but others can struggle without the accountability.”

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