February 2, 2014

Carroll students talk school improvement

Junior-high class weighs in

By Amie Sites Pharos-Tribune

---- — FLORA — School improvement issues are hot topics to administrators, but it isn’t often that administrators ask students what those improvement issues are.

But that’s just what happened Carroll Consolidated School Corp. Friday.

Ben Prohm, English teacher at Carroll Jr.-Sr. High School, gave his eighth grade students a group project assignment on school improvement issues. The idea for the school improvement project came from a discussion with administrators who wanted student feedback on what could be done, Prohm said. Before he let students have full rein, he asked Chris Lagoni, superintendent at Carroll School Corp. and Angela Moreman, principal at Carroll Jr.-Sr. High School, what questions they would want answered.

After working on those projects, eighth grade students at Carroll Jr.-Sr. High School finally gave presentations on improvement issues Friday morning.

Students picked topics, researched what could be done to improve issues as well as looked at other schools that may have already implemented some of the possible solutions. Students presented their group-project by utilizing PowerPoint-style presentations on their iPads provided by the school.

“[The project] encourages collaboration and teaches them to come out of their shell,” Prohm said.

One of the suggested changes, which is already being implemented, is a three-hour delay instead of a two-hour delay. Although students would have to tack on an extra hour at the end of the day, fewer school days would have to be made up with an extra built-in hour.

School improvement issues from the student’s view ranged from starting school later in the day, having healthy or better lunches and allowing more choices for students to having more field trips, switching to year-round school and implementing an awards program.

Several students discussed starting school later. They researched schools already starting later in the day and suggested time changes ranging from 30 minutes to an entire hour later.

Students said it would improve test scores, concentration and students’ wakefulness.

Other groups surveyed students at the school to get feedback. One group asked seventh- and eighth-grade students if they would prefer year-round school, which has breaks in varying length, to what is in place now. 83 percent said yes.

Another group that surveyed students asked eighth graders what they thought about increasing field trips and promoting hands-on learning and 85 percent said it was a good idea, the group said.

Students seemed to think hands-on learning would provide a better experience. Students recalled trips to the zoo, aquarium and children’s museum.

Another school improvement idea popular among administration and policy-makers — healthier or better school lunches — was a favorite topic among students. One of the groups said providing fresh vegetables and fruit and adding seasoning or spices would increase the number of students eating school lunches. A suggested solution was creating a community garden at the school to help make that possible.

Students looked into other topics as well, such as getting bigger lockers. Currently they are stacked with top and bottom rows, making it hard to get into the locker if someone above or below your locker is around. Students looked at ways to get new lockers which involved procuring funding.

Administrators gave questions they would have to Prohm’s classes, including how the projects would be funded. In response, students included funding options in their presentations, including grants available and fundraiser opportunities that could take place to make the school improvement suggestions a reality.

Prohm thought the projects were a success. He was excited to see his students work together and research ideas.

“I was happy to see them overcome shyness and work in a group to build skills needed in life,” Prohm said.

Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or Follow her: @PharosAES.