Arlington community members got a personal tour of local schools as part of the annual Know Our Schools hosted by the Arlington School District.
The regular event, usually held once a year, allows parents and other locals an opportunity to see local schools up close. This year’s event was held on Nov. 15 and included tours of Presidents Elementary, Haller Middle School and Weston High School.
Community members were also able to ride one of the district’s newest buses.
“Our bus fleet is one of the oldest in the state,” said Brian Lewis, director of operations for the district, with some buses running 350,000 to 400,000 miles.
“We end up putting a lot more money into keeping the buses running and safe when they’re that old,” said Lewis.
At Presidents Elementary community members saw some of the programs that are a part of the school, such as teachers emphasizing the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”
“We were a licensed ‘Leader and Me’ school, but we’ve gone away from paying that licensing fee, but we’re still teaching the seven habits,” said Derek Larsen, principal for the school.
The elementary school has also put together some programs to help kids get involved, such as their ‘Green Ninjas.’
“They’re a green team and they help in the lunch room, basically with our recycling efforts and the cleaning, and it’s amazing how many kids love to help work,” said Larsen.
At Haller Middle School community members toured the school and saw some of the new security features at the building, such as a callbox that has been installed throughout schools in the district.
“This is linked to our main office so any visitor that comes in can press that and we can ask them what they’re here for and what they need,” said Haller Middle School principal Trever Summers.
“Anyone that wants to enter would have to request entry,” said Lewis.
At Weston High School, the district’s alternative high school, community members saw a number of different programs that allow students options to graduate or earn their GED.
The Open Doors program is specifically meant to bring back students that have left the education system.
“This program is for students who have dis-engaged from education, usually by dropping out, and want to come back and get their diploma or GED,” said case manager Renee McArt.
It began last year and has about 56 students this year, with a number of graduates as well.
They partner with Darrington and Lakewood schools and accept kids throughout the region.
The Alternative Online Program allows students to catch on schooling by earning credits through online classes.
“They’ve missed credit in their schooling and they're trying to make it up so they can graduate or graduate on time,” said Kailyn Otto, a teacher at Weston High School.
The program is also helpful for students with children or a job and need a flexible schedule.
Weston High School student Macie Bailey talked about ‘restorative justice’ being used at the school for conflict resolution.
‘Restorative justice’ is a broad theory that advocates rehabilitation of offenders foremost over punishment.
“Whenever somebody gets in trouble here we don’t just go ‘hey, you’re suspended.’ We get in a group and talk it out with two teachers, a standby student and the principal,” said Bailey.
She said that sometimes students are going through their own problems and the system helps everyone stay empathetic to the issues of fellow students.