Old Rochester Regional High School Principal Michael Devoll and the ORR School Committee discussed a pilot program that would change the start of the school day from 7:30 am to 8:30 am for next year, with the Committee ultimately approving a motion to allow Devoll and his staff to continue to plan for it.
The main goal of the extra hour is to provide a common planning time for teachers, as well as to allow an early period for students to meet for things like clubs and organizations and to visit the library, computer labs, and the gymnasium. There would be 15 paraprofessionals assigned to supervise them, as well as a potential addition of an aide to help specifically during this period.
Currently, students and teachers are required to be at school at 7:20 am, and that will remain the same for teachers under the plan. Devoll stressed his wish that parents and school personnel keep in mind that this is a pilot program, and that it would need to prove itself worthwhile before it is made permanent.
“We want to advertise that this is a trial,” he said. “We need to show as a staff that this is valuable. This is a practice of very successful high schools.”
“If it’s not working – if we hear complaints from the parents – we’re going to give that information to [Devoll],” said Chair Joe Scott. “It’s something we need to consider.”
In other news, Kim Corazzini, who is ORR’s advisor for the AFS program, introduced the three intercultural students who spent the school year in the area. AFS (formerly American Field Service, but now just shortened to the acronym) helps students from all over the world find schools and homes in countries other than their native homelands.
The students are Alvaro Mansilla of Chile, Pearl Sawaspanich of Thailand, and Linda Rinaldo from Italy.
Rinaldo, who is expected to receive her diploma from ORR as well as her home school, said that the trio has enjoyed their time at ORR.
“We love it here,” Rinaldo said. “I love all the extra school activities, and I made a lot of friends.”
Corazzini said that all three of the students would be capable of passing the MCAS, but that not all of them fall into the official category of being seniors and didn’t need to take them.
Sawaspanich said that the weather here was one of the main differences from her home in Thailand, but that overall, the trip was a learning experience.
“This is one of my dreams come true,” she said. “I’m glad to be here. Everything is very different where I come from. Everywhere in Thailand is eighty to one hundred degrees.”
Alvaro, who played soccer and lacrosse at ORR, also spoke of how friendly everyone at ORR was in his time there.
“It’s been a great experience for me, too,” he said. “I made a lot of friends. Everyone here is really nice.”
Scott also added that they are also looking for host families for next year’s students.
The Committee also announced that two of its members, Dr. Mike Pellegrino and Thomas J. Shire Jr., were stepping down from the Committee, and that Derek Medeiros, recently elected, would join it.
By Nick Walecka