Pam Hall Named Interim Principal at Jeff High

It was announced over the weekend that Pam Hall, current Freshman Academy Principal, will become interim principal at Jeffersonville High School for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Outgoing principal Julie Straight shared the news with faculty and staff via her weekly email newsletter on Sunday night.

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Pam Hall (photo by Paige Moore)

This move is pending board approval on Tuesday, January 14. 

Straight is moving into the position of Academy and CTE (Career and Technical Education) coordinator for Greater Clark County Schools.

Julie Straight Looks Back on Successes, Looks Forward to New Challenges as She Takes on a New Role

It’s a typical Friday night in Johnson Arena. The Jeffersonville Red Devils are taking on the Silver Creek Dragons in a highly anticipated match up. The score is tight as the game is coming down to the wire. The crowd is full and the student sections are roaring back and forth, chanting and taunting. And like so many events at Jeff High, sitting in the upper level watching the school she has been a part of for so many years is Julie Straight. However, something is different about this game. For Straight, it is one of her last as principal of Jeffersonville High School. As the game ends and the crowd fills the gym floor, she looks from the balcony with a smile. And as cheers of “We Are Jeff High” ring out, Straight remarks, “This is what it’s all about: Pride.” 

On Friday, December 20, Greater Clark County Schools announced that Straight would be moving into a new position as Academy and CTE (career and technical educator) coordinator for the district. In this position, she will be taxed with keeping academy curriculum, teachers and opportunities in line with the workforce. Straight believes that her experience in implementing the academy model at Jeff High will help her. “I’ve had all the training…it gives me a great foundation,” she says. 

Straight is excited about the position and believes the job will “present a new challenge” that she has the “skillset to meet.” Straight cited family as the main reason for the move. “I have my first grandbaby coming in March,” she says. “Not living on the Jeff High extracurricular calendar is what I need to do for my family right now.” 

While Straight is excited about her new challenge, she will miss the school she has spent most of her life at as a student, teacher and administrator. “I’ve loved it,” she says. “I don’t regret any of it.”

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Going back to her days as a student and cheerleader, Principal Julie Straight has always represented Jeff High Pride. – Topic Archives photo by Steven Driver

 Straight’s time at Jeff High began many years before becoming principal. A member of the class of 1982, she was always full of spirit and pride in her school as a student. “I loved high school,” she said. Despite this, Straight didn’t know she wanted to become a teacher at the time.

She went to Purdue for engineering, but she soon realized that wasn’t the path for her. She left college and got married, and when she went back to school she knew she wanted to pursue teaching, and she wanted to teach at Jeff High, but it was not her first teaching job.

“It was a hard job market,” says Straight. However, with some experience from teaching summer school, she was able to find an opening at New Washington. There Straight says she learned a lot and gained valuable teaching experience. 

After two years at New Washington, she got a call from Jeff High and soon landed a job at her dream school. She would remain at Jeff for the rest of her teaching career. 

Straight was an English teacher before moving into an administrative role. For Straight, she says “teaching is all about relationships and problem-solving.” She believes that she gained a lot from teaching that has made her a better principal. “I have a deep appreciation for what teachers are doing, all the balls they are juggling,” she says. “It’s very demanding work.”

Straight initially did not intend to move into administration. “I kinda stumbled in,” she said. “When I was getting my masters, I had 2 children, and the classes that were offered when I could take them were administrative classes and I really liked it.” 

Straight had her administrative license for a couple of years before applying for an administrative position, but eventually she “wanted a new challenge.” She interviewed a couple of times, and in 2010 she stepped into the position of assistant principal. 

Two years later, in 2012, there was a lot of movement within the administration, and after a mid-year switch, Straight became interim principal in October. She has held the top job ever since. 

Coming into the job, Straight says her goals were ensuring the highest-quality teachers and creating more pride in what is happening at Jeff. 

Straight is proud of the many improvements she has seen in her time as principal, “We’ve done good work,” she says. This includes the improvement in academic standing, the district-wide PRIDE program, and the hiring of many great teachers who have “embraced the Jeff High family.” However, Straight is proudest of the many “top-notch” opportunities offered at Jeff, both in the classroom and through extracurriculars. “I really believe, especially for a large urban school, we offer more opportunities than any school around,” she says. 

Although she has loved the job, Straight acknowledges the challenges of being a principal. “There are some really tough decisions that have to be made, but kids have to be first, and that makes other things easier,” she says. “We’ve had some situations with students, where their lives were in the balance or the school’s safety was in the balance…But we’ve come through everything.” 

Another challenge of being a principal is time management. “This has not been a job, this has been my life,” says Straight. As the leader of the school, she feels it is her responsibility to attend the events of the school and to understand and know about all the people and activities occurring at Jeff. “You don’t own your calendar… because things happen,” says Straight, “so you have to be flexible.”

And while often it is easy to get bogged down with all the work, it is her Jeff High community that keeps her head up. “I’ve been exposed to so many great things, events, people, life-changing things,” says Straight, “seeing how people care for our kids definitely has made me a better person.” 

Reflecting back, she hopes that people remember she “took a lot of pride in the work and loved it.” Looking forward, she is optimistic, “I truly hope… that [Jeff High] can and will be better,” she says.

Straight says she will miss many moments at Jeff, but most of all she says, “I’ll miss seeing kids every single day.” As she looks to a new challenge, there is one thing that Straight says will always be true, “I am a Red Devil. That will never change.”

Jeff High Principal Julie Straight Moving Into New GCCS Role

On Dec. 20, 2019, Greater Clark County Schools announced that Jeffersonville High School principal Julie Straight will move into a new role overseeing the school district’s Academies in January. The move is pending school board approval.

The school district will name a new interim principal to lead Jeff High.

On the day of the announcement, Principal Straight spoke with The Hyphen about her time leading Jeff High. Subscribe to The Hyphen on WordPress or follow us on Twitter to be notified immediately when this story is posted  

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Principal Straight reacts with joy while watching students and staff play a game at the 2019 fall pep session. Photo by Paige Moore

 

 

 

Community, School Leaders Celebrate the Start of Baseball Facility Construction

On Thursday, November 21, school leaders gathered with past and present Jeff High baseball players to celebrate the beginning of construction for Jeff High’s new baseball facility. The project, which includes a new turf field and a replacement of the outer fencing, is being funded by a $500,000 donation from the John Schnatter Foundation. 

Papa John’s Pizza founder John Schnatter, a 1980 Jeff High graduate and baseball player, was on hand for the event. Schnatter thanked attendees for their support and said it was good to be back at Jeff after 30 years.

Although the facility will be named the John Schnatter Stadium, the field will still be named after former coach Don Poole. Poole also spoke at the event. 

Construction is expected to be complete in time for the first home baseball game in the spring of 2020.

 

Story and photos by Kyle Tincher

Student Debt Reaches an Unsustainable Level

From school visits to applications, applying to colleges can be overwhelming. Perhaps the biggest issue? The cost of college and student debt. The tuition and fees for an average in-state four-year college costs approximately $9,410 a year. In-state four-year private colleges average about $32,410 per year. The prices are even higher for out-of-state colleges.

According to NBC News, student debt has risen in recent years and is now at $1.6 trillion nationwide. Tyler Colyer, a Jeffersonville High School counselor, says that many worry about the cost of college. “The cost of college is a huge concern for many students and families,” Colyer said. “Parents and students worry not only about the cost but also how they will afford it now or in the future if student loans are necessary.”

According to a report from CNBC.com, 84-percent of students that borrowed loans said that debt has affected their ability to save for retirement. Many people don’t pay off their loans until their 40s.

Kyle Sanders, former editor-in-chief of The Hyphen and a sophomore at Indiana University Southeast, said that he is concerned about money and that it even influenced his decision about the university he attends. “I decided to attend a local college to save money and am constantly thinking about how the debt I have will affect me years from now,” Sanders said.

Colyer advises students to start early when it comes to paying for college. “Get good grades and work on your standardized test scores because that means money,” he said. Colyer pointed out that scholarships are also essential. “Don’t write off applying for a scholarship because it’s only a few hundred dollars. Every penny counts!”

The Great Spirit Stick Controversy: Is it Rigged?

THE-UNDERSCORE

To get the answer to this question, we went straight to the source: Principal Julie Straight. She started by pointing out that the seniors don’t always win. For instance, at a pep rally last year, the seniors didn’t win the spirit stick, which resulted in “outrage and devastation” until they got it back.

“It isn’t rigged,” she clarified. “But I will say that if it’s a coin toss, that nod will go to the seniors. There is something to senior privilege. They have earned that. But … they have to earn it.”

Do you have a burning question about Jeff High history or traditions? Ask The Underscore and we’ll investigate for you. To submit an idea, talk to a Hyphen staff member or send an email to jeffhighhyphen@gmail.com

School Start Time: Is 7:45 Too Early For Teenagers?

In early November, as the nights get colder and the days get shorter, the sound of an alarm piercing through the darkness early in the morning can be quite alarming. According to sleepfoundation.org, teenagers need a minimum of 8½ hours of sleep — yet only 15 percent of teenagers get that much. 

Why not just go to bed earlier? According to sleepfoundation.org, teens have a hard time falling asleep anytime before 11 p.m. due to biological sleep patterns.

Sleep is as important as the air you breathe. It is also important for maintaining the stress teenagers face. So why does school begin so early at Jeff High — especially in comparison to other districts, including those where high schools start later than elementary schools? 

According to Greater Clark County Schools superintendent Mark Laughner, “One main reason the district chooses to start high schools before elementary schools is so that older siblings arrive home at the end of the school day prior to their younger siblings. We serve a lot of working parents and this provides them with additional support in the afternoon.” 

Jeffersonville High School sophomore Georgia Martin, who said she wakes up at 5 a.m. to get ready and catch her bus in time, thinks the start time should change. “I hate [the starting time], and I think it should be pushed back an hour,” Martin said. Getting more sleep isn’t the only reason. Martin added that her bus stop is a street over from her house, so she worries about safety walking to her bus stop in the dark. 

In spite of the complaints, the school district does not plan to push back that alarm clock anytime soon. “The district is not looking to change start/end times in the near future,” said Laughner.img_7197

Recent poll results from @thehyphennews on Instagram!!!!

 

Is College Needed?

Most children in school are constantly told the benefits of college and getting a college
degree. As generations of children are graduating thinking college is the only option, many jobs are being left open in manufacturing and skilled labor fields. It begs the question, is college the best decision for all students?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 69.1-percent of 2018 high school graduates attend a college or university. This number has stayed about the same (65 to 70-percent) for almost 15 years.

Many skilled labor employers are seeing the effect, Market Watch’s Jefferey Bartash notes that this is the “tightest labor market in decades forcing companies to pay up.” Many young people enter the workforce with a bachelor’s degree, yet not the technical experience to take on these high paying jobs.

College is also becoming increasingly expensive. According to Nitro College, a college financial service provider, the average student will acquire $37,172 in student debt. Nitro also states it take on average 19.7 years for student loans to be paid for a four year education.

The cost of college is also rising. Since 1971, the average cost of a public institution has gone from $8,730 to $21,370. Private institutions have also increased from $18,140 to $48,510 during the same time period. With the costs of college rising, and the increased pay for skilled trades and other careers not requiring a college degree, many high school students are seriously considering whether college is really the best path.

Despite this, college does have its economic benefits. On average, those with a high school degree make about $712 a week. For those with an associates degree, weekly pay averages $836. For those with a bachelor’s degree, it’s $1,173. Those with even further education range from $1,400-1,836 weekly on average. So there is clearly an economic advantage to attending college; however, the opportunity cost must be factored in, as well.

Many high schools are putting in place programs to get students on the path to success, even if that path doesn’t include college. For example Greater Clark County Schools’ adoption of the academies sets up many students up for specific training toward certain careers without a college education. At Jeffersonville High School and around the country, many are realizing that college isn’t always the answer.

RED! WHITE! RED! WHITE! We all fight for the Jeff High Spirit Stick — but WHY?

 

 It’s homecoming season. You’ve waited all week and the pep rally is finally here. You are separated by classes. Underclassmen are wearing red and upperclassmen are wearing white. You’re screaming back and forth, yelling ” RED!” and ” WHITE!” at the top of your lungs, all to win the spirit stick. But why is a red cardboard tube worth so much to Jeff High students? 

Principal Julie Straight says the answer is simple: “There’s pride in fighting for the school together, just showing that spirit and pride for the school.” A Jeff High graduate, Straight remembers battling over a spirit stick when she was a student — although it wasn’t the same spirit stick we have now. 

The current spirit stick came from Nancy Molnar, a former teacher at Jeff, who made it herself in the early 1990s. She says, “I had new carpet installed in my house. When it was completed…the installer asked if I needed the carpet roll. I looked at it and immediately knew it would work. I sawed the length I knew I could handle at school and big enough for students to see. I fluffed up the plastic at the end to appear like something…perhaps a flame. I placed it on my husband’s sawhorses and painted it red, bought the striped ribbon and glued it down on the stick.” 

Although we don’t know exactly when Jeff High students started battling over some form of stick, we do know that a similar tradition that has been around for many decades. A 1972 yearbook photo shows students claiming a “spirit jug” at a pep rally.  

Principal Straight says that this history and tradition is part of what makes every battle over the spirit stick great. “It brings that bit of nostalgia.”

The seniors claimed the spirit stick at this year’s fall homecoming pep rally.
The 1972 Jeff High yearbook shows a predecessor to the spirit stick: the spirit jug. The caption reads, “J.V. cheerleader, Vanessa Rorrer accepts the spirit jug for the Sophs. from varsity cheerleader Bev Brogan.”


Story by Kaitlyn Monroe

 

JHS Theatre to Present Alice in Wonderland November 8-10

This weekend the Jeffersonville High School Theatre Department will take audiences through the looking glass with three performances of Alice in Wonderland, a production based on Lewis Carroll’s classic story about dreaming and identity.

Shows will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 8 and Saturday, November 9. There will also be a 2 p.m. matinée on Sunday, November 10.

Tickets are $10 for Jeff High students and senior citizens. The general admission price for others is $15. The ticket price includes a tea party with the cast after the show.

JHS Theatre director Derrick Ledbetter describes the show as “free-wheeling, highly imaginative and fast-paced.”

The show stars Anna Lowe as Alice. Other cast members include Gavin Van Fleet, Joryn Burns, Jesse Crull, Becken Maddox, Madison Conway, Hannah Dickens, Cassie Hawkins, Kennedy Smith, Hailey Hughes, Claire Storz, Abby Napper, Alex Seifert, Katie Dorman, Lydia Church, and Nathaniel Garner.

Written by Chloey Trinkle

Preventing Suicide: Avoidance Isn’t the Answer

Suicide is a raw topic that most people like to avoid. The ones trapped by suicidal thoughts often feel alone and don’t talk about their feelings. People who were left behind after a loved one’s suicide are left with questions and pain, often causing them to stay quiet. Those without experience with the heartbreaking topic don’t know how to talk about it.  But the idea of avoiding conversations about suicide and everything related can be deadly, especially since according to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death in teenagers and 4,969 of those deaths were Indiana residents. 

Suicide is preventable, so how do we prevent it?  

Gage Donohue, coordinator of a Survivors of Suicide Support group who lost his 19-year-old daughter (a Jeff High graduate) to suicide, says, “We can reduce the suicide rate by encouraging people to ask for help when they need it, to educate the public about the warning signs and risk factors and let people know there are a lot of people willing to help.” 

According to Donohue, one way to prevent suicide is simply looking for signs in your friends and peers. Donohue says, “Listen to what people are saying when they are talking to you, look in their eyes, watch the body language and ask questions.  Put down your phone and really listen. Do not be afraid to ask, ‘Are you thinking about suicide?’ You will not put the idea in their head if it is not already there.” In addition to offering support, Donohue says you should encourage them to contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline or a health care professional right away.

Donohue also says that is important not to degrade or dismiss someone’s feelings or thoughts. He says that people with suicidal thoughts or depression are not weak. “People do not really want to die, they just want the mental or physical pain to end.”

Most importantly, if you feel yourself having these destructive thoughts or feelings, talk to someone. Tell your parents, your friends, a doctor, or a trusted adult. Remember that you are not alone and millions of people feel the same way. You are worthy of life and everything it holds. 

Suicide Prevention Hotline:
Call 1-800-273-8255 OR
Text CONNECT to 741741

Speaking of Labels…What’s the Q+ About?

For many years, people used the term “LGBT” to describe the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual
and Transgender community. In recent years, you might have noticed a new addition at the end: “Q+”. The Q+ is meant to be more inclusive of people who identify with something that’s not in the traditional LGBT framework (such as Asexual
and Pansexual).

While it might not seem like a big deal, the distinction is important to many people —
and has actually become a hotly debated issue. A Jeff High student who wanted to be anonymous for this story says the Q+ isn’t needed: “Trans covers FTM (female to male), MTF (male to female), and non-binary (the feeling of being genderless). Lesbian and Gay cover that, and Bi covers Pan so that’s about it.”

On the other side is Amber Walker, a Jeff High student who prefers the Q+ addition because “Personally, I feel that there is a whole spectrum of possibilities that don’t fit into just four labels.”

On a recent Instagram poll, the votes for the acronym LGBT was just one person while the votes for LGBTQ+ were 17 people. Most of those polled were from the area, but some were not. An LGBTQ+ community member who voted is from a country where being a part of the community is looked down upon and it is illegal to attend Pride festivals and have samesex marriage without punishment.

Is this debate pointless? While representation is important, the LGBTQ+ community, whether you believe in the Q+ or not, is an accepting community for those of different sexualities and genders. Even though LGBTQ+ won our poll, your opinion is your opinion as long as you aren’t hurting anyone with it.