The start of the school year is only a few days away. To help prepare themselves, the incoming class of 2023 and parents attended a preview at Beatrice High School on Thursday evening.
Students attempted to walk their schedules, many with confused looks on their faces as they searched for classrooms. They also compared classes with their friends and worked on opening their lockers.
“Everything kind of starts now,” Jason Sutter, high school principal, said to the students. “What you’ve done in elementary school and middle school has laid a solid, hopefully very firm foundation for your success going forward in high school and onto college and whatever you decide to do after college.”
Sutter gave students several pieces of advice to succeed in high school.
“We want you to have a great time,” Sutter said. “It can be some of the best times of your life. We also want you to start thinking about ‘OK, how am I behaving? Is my behavior causing me to have any problems?’ Leave some of the drama behind. We don’t have a lot of time for drama in high school.”
He also stressed that students get involved in school activities. Sutter said students involved in at least one activity have an average GPA of 3.3, while students not involved in anything have an average GPA of 2.5.
“They become more involved, they become more organized, they have a chance to learn a lot of different skills, and we encourage all ninth graders to be involved,” Sutter said.
Neal Randel, the school’s activities director, spoke to the families about changes in eligibility.
Previously, students failing two or more classes became ineligible to participate in activities. This year, the students can have their teachers rank their initiative to get their grades up and if they’re showing effort, they will still be eligible.
“If kids are working as hard as they can, and there’s not a test- an opportunity for them to raise their grades for two weeks, we don’t want to penalize kids for that. So they’ve got some opportunities to do that,” Randel said.
However, students failing three or more classes will remain ineligible.
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The high school holds interventions on Fridays, where students failing classes stay until 3:30 p.m. to get extra help from their teachers and students passing their classes are allowed to leave early.
“For whatever reason, that’s been a huge motivator for most of our kids,” Sutter said. “They get things turned in, keep their grades up… We won’t do that for the first four weeks or so of school until we get some grades in the grade book. After that, we’ll send information home to you.”
Randel said another new factor for activities in the last few years is the random drug test agreement.
Students participating in activities are required to sign an agreement to be part of a pool for random drug tests.
“They stay in that pool throughout their high school career,” Randel said. “You don’t have to do that every year. If you’ve done it once, you’re good. If your son or daughter wants to withdraw from that pool, unfortunately that withdraws them from the opportunity to participate in activities.”
Each student is also assigned a $10 class fee, which goes towards prom activities, flowers for graduation and similar materials.
“We collect that over the four years that they’re here, and that takes care of all that,” Sutter said. “The response and feedback we’ve received from parents and guardians is ‘I’d rather just pay $10 and not have to be involved in fundraising. I’ve got boatloads of cookie dough in my freezer already.’”
Freshman start school on Tuesday, Aug. 13, a day before the upperclassmen.
Sutter said they will have a pep rally in the Hevelone Center for Performing Arts, meet the student council, learn about different activities, walk their schedules and meet their teachers.
“We talked to your eighth grade teachers. They had some very good things to say about your class, very high compliments,” Sutter said. “We’re very excited to have you join this school, your school, and it’s going to be a great year.”