Interim Clarke Superintendent Steve Seid took the initiative to get to know Clarke High School underclassmen better, including learning about their personal thoughts on the school district.
Seid ate lunch March 4 with a group of freshman and sophomores to ask them questions about what they liked about the school district and what could be improved.
Seid said he wanted to meet with underclassmen since they still had a few years left at Clarke, and school counselers told him which students would be good to talk with.
The first question asked was, "Who's your favorite teacher?"
Ruthann Wiggins answered Michael Kline, at-risk teacher.
"He's a good study-hall teacher," Wiggins said. "He's a good teacher overall. He helps a lot."
Kassidy Spurgin said Kirstin Knight, foreign-language teacher.
"If I have anything to talk about, like, I can go to her and she's open-minded about things, very down to earth," Spurgin said. "I feel like she's not always so serious, like some people are all about the bookwork and stay on track. She does that but has fun with it."
Darius Fugate's favorites were a three-way tie between Knight, Michelle Osberg, foreign-language teacher, and Becky Jones-Web, English and reading teacher.
"They're more than just a teacher to me," Fugate said. "They're someone I can rely on."
Christian Andrade said Kline was his favorite teacher.
What do you like?
Seid then asked the students what they liked about Clarke.
Fugate said the athletic department, "all the way."
"When you're in a sport, regardless whether you like somebody or not, you still play as a team," he said. "No matter what sport you look at, we all play like we're one big family. We may have our fights and arguments, but we're still there for each other."
Seid also wanted to know what things could the district improve on.
One answer was information. School events or athletics need to be made more public and the information needs to get out sooner.
"We expect people to just show up, and how are they just supposed to show up if they don't know what's going on?" Spurgin said.
One idea discussed was to include a list of events when report cards are annually sent out.
Seid listened to many of the students' concerns, and then asked if they had any questions for him.
Wiggins asked Seid what he would do to change things for the better in the district.
Seid said he is focusing on the heating in the schools with struggling boilers and heat pumps.
"We're developing a five-year plan," Seid said. "You guys have just had your iPads for a couple of months. I'm looking beyond that. We need to have a system for repair and replacement and putting away the money for when that happens. Really concentrating on curriculum and academics; I think, frankly, that we can do much better academically than what we are right now."
He added, there's no reason Clarke can't be the model school district for everyone else.
Other ideas from the students included having language classes other than Spanish, such as French, German or Chinese.
Starting powder-puff football or soccer teams was discussed between the students.
Seid said starting a soccer team is "in discussion." He said extracurriculars offer incentives for students to get better grades and be able to participate.
"I feel like you'd get a lot more people interested in keeping their grades up, too, because sports do push you," Spurgin said.