Thursday, August 29, 2013

Picture Day

Ardmore High School
Picture Day: 09/05/2013 Picture Day ID: OS043024YP

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

At-Risk Students

The term “At-risk students” is used frequently in education circles, and by politicians, but what does it really mean? The term at-risk encompasses a great deal of area and is a multifaceted problem. The traditional definition is, “An at-risk student is a student who, by virtue of their circumstances, is statistically more likely than others to fail academically.” What makes a student more likely to fail academically?"

Statistics show that students living in a low socioeconomic household are more likely to fail academically. Let me say that there are thousands of examples of students that succeed wonderfully despite living in a situation many would classify as at-risk. However, statistics do show that coming from a low socioeconomic background makes school success less likely. Students growing up in low socioeconomic settings are not exposed to as many outside learning experiences as more affluent students. There are many other cultural differences in homes based upon the economic status of the parents.

The educational background of parents also has been determined to be an at-risk factor for many students. Once again many students exceed the educational level obtained by parents but statistically the higher educational level of parents, the more likely the student achieves academic success. The attitude of the parent toward education also plays a huge role here as well. A parent that values an education is more likely to push their children to achieve in school. Many parents use their lack of education as a motivator to push their children to obtain what they were unable to obtain.

School attendance, or lack thereof, is perhaps one of the biggest at-risk factors. A multitude of factors contribute to a student’s school attendance record. The reasons are too many to list but range from legitimate reasons to just simply not wanting to go to school. One thing that is clear is that parents and schools cannot solve this problem on their own. Parents and schools must work together to create an environment with the right amount of enticement and encouragement to ensure school attendance. Many students have issues at home that prevent them from being able to place school at the top of their priority list. Many times socioeconomic status is a crucial factor in school attendance. If a student needs to help provide necessities for the family it only stands to reason they have less time for school.

School personnel can’t solve the reasons students are at risk, so our focus must be on overcoming the factors that make a student at risk. This can be a daunting task and many times frustrating due to feeling powerless to help students. We must constantly strive to find new ways to reach students and to make school a more relevant, engaging experience for all of our students. There are days we feel defeated because we are not able to save all students. It is on these days we must remember the success stories and let those be the fuel to keep us going.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Boys and Girls of Fall

Beginning of extracurricular activities always marks the start of school. As long as I can remember, I have either been playing sports, coaching sports, or watching sports. I can still recognize that certain “Smell in the air” that lets me know the fall sports season is upon us. The fall sports season is such a rite of passage for so many American youth it is a valuable piece of Americana.

Think about all the young people involved in just a football game night at Ardmore High School. We have the football team, band, and cheerleaders that are the active participants and many of our students are there to cheer on their peers. I don’t know what percentage of the student body will be in the stadium on opening night but I would say the number would be quite large. This doesn’t count the volleyball games and cross country meets which occur through the week and on the weekends.

Research has shown, and people have known for years without doing research, that students involved in school activities enjoy school more, perform at a higher level, and are less likely to drop out. I encourage all of our students to become involved even if it is as a fan cheering on the other students. These activities make school more palatable for those with the inclination to not enjoy school and give us all something to look forward to that can break the monotony that many times sets in for students.

As the year passes by, we will have many more activities in which students may participate. Some of these activities are sports related and some are not, but we want everyone to be able to find their niche so they can have a wholesome activity to enjoy. We don’t have as many activities as we would like due to a multitude of factors, but hopefully we can continue to add activities until everyone finds something to enjoy.


It is good to find time to reflect. Our e-mail is down this morning so it gives me a couple of minutes for reflection upon the start of school. We have had a stellar beginning to the 2013-2014 school year from my perspective. Students have been extremely well behaved, our teachers and staff have been especially positive and upbeat, and parents have been very supportive. We have had a few glitches as always but by and large everything has gone smoothly.

I think the new method used to distribute schedules was an improvement over doing it in one night. I love the idea of getting everyone together and passing out schedules, but I think we have outgrown that procedure. As Ardmore continues to grow changes in procedure will inevitably follow simply due to the number of students. Having been at a large school, there are things that are possible at small schools that aren’t possible with a high student count. The trick is to balance the new procedures without losing time honored traditions.

With the building of the new gym a lot of reminiscing has been occurring around the school. We have old pictures of how Ardmore looked forty to fifty years ago and you will likely be seeing some things on the website as construction continues on our new gym. It is great to celebrate the past while preparing for an exciting new future. Gyms may come and go but the spirit and pride of the Ardmore people is a constant that makes the community what it has become. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Breakfast With the Principal

We are constantly looking for ways to improve communication between our school and our parents. We have started a new program this year called, Breakfast with the Principal. Five parents a month will have breakfast with me at 7:30 a.m. here at school. This will allow us time to just talk and for me to hear your insights about Ardmore High School. Obviously space is limited and if we have more than we can accommodate we will randomly draw for the times. Of course I am always available to speak with you if you have concerns, this is just a formal way to receive feedback from our parents. After I receive the names of the interested parents I will notify them of the schedule. Please include your e-mail and/or phone number when you sign up. If you would like to participate please call the school or e-mail me at

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Second Day of School

The second day of school often gets overlooked and certainly doesn't have the sentimental value as the first day of school. Not as many people will post pictures of their children on Facebook for the second day of school as they did for the first. The level of excitement will have decreased a little by the time the second day rolls around.

The challenge to parents and teachers is to try and keep the students focused on what is important every day of school and to build positive energy toward finishing the year strong. The second day is many times when friendships are strengthened, cafeteria seats are finalized, and the year’s pecking order is becoming clear. The friendships forged during these early days of school will certainly help shape the students’ lives for years to come.

While I love the first day of school, let us not forget the importance of the second day of school and every day remaining in the school year. As parents, we have a lot riding on the school years and as school staff we have the incredible responsibility of helping to nurture the students through these tumultuous years we know as adolescence. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

First Day of School

The first day of school is still exciting after twenty five years of working in public schools. I still remember the feeling as a student and as a young teacher and although the butterflies are a little different, the anticipation still remains. A new school year is truly like opening a new book because of the excitement of not knowing how things are going to go. The start of school is a good time to forget previous bad years and seek to emulate previous good years.

It is fun to see the excitement on new sixth grade students and new teachers alike. Even veterans seem to have a little extra spark in their eye on the first day of school. I realize that I was fortunate to have a positive experience while in school and have always enjoyed the school environment and not everyone shares these thoughts. Even for students who remember previous school years with disdain, there is always the possibility that this year will be different. Each year I start the year hoping each student has a positive experience and gets a good start. Not everyone gets what they want in terms of schedules, classes, teachers or lunch, but maybe something positive will happen during the day.

As the year goes by the temptation is to let some of the enthusiasm of the first day begin to wane, but hopefully the positive thoughts will continue throughout the entire year. While it is true that there will be days when circumstances are not desirable; maybe even on bad days some good has been done in the life of a child. For those students who seem to never have a positive school experience we continue to try and find the key to altering the negative experience.

Most of our students will go home excited about seeing their friends and finding out which teachers appear on their schedule. Many will be delighted by who shares their lunch period or who they sit next to in science class. We never know if we might have met our future best friend or spouse as we try and find the best place to sit in the cafeteria. Many go home tired forgetting how exhausting this day can be, but all will go home with the satisfaction of know that they conquered the first day of school. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Phone Message

This message will be sent August 16, 2013.

Hello, this is Tommy Hunter, principal at Ardmore High School. As you know school starts Monday, August 19, 2013. Our school day will begin at 7:55 and end at 3:00. Our students will report the MS gym, HS gym, or cafeteria at 7:30 and will be dismissed to their first period class at 7:48. Students who do not have their schedule should find their first period teacher which will listed at the front of the school and in the MS building. All students will be given a schedule during first period. We are excited about this school year.