New administration means new changes

In August, the school community welcomed new administrators to the building, including Assistant Principal Michael Pope and Dean of Students Meghan Bargar and Victor Garcia.

After close to a year on the job, here are some new policies and programs they have implemented.

   Pope’s impact came in the form of a new tardy policy. While the policy was at first disliked by students, it has now become more widely accepted.

“Definitely, yeah, way more of an overreaction than what the policy actually is,” Caleb Kowalewski, junior, said about the student body’s initial response to the policy.

Pope acknowledged why students may have had such a strong reaction originally.

“I understand why the reaction was negative at first,” Pope said in an email. “Most students now realize this didn’t have much effect on them.”

But not all students think the tardy policy should continue into the 2019-20 school year.

“I think it’s kind of been unfair to the students, especially when some teachers might take it a little too far,” Allan Rodriguez, junior, said.  “If a student walks in two seconds after the bell rings, and then [the teacher] sends them back to get that pass, it’s already wasting another four or five minutes.”

The new rule, however, has led to a positive impact on student attendance.

“Although the Hero system was unpopular with students at first, this change has resulted in almost 50 percent fewer tardies this year than in previous years. We are also seeing an increase in overall attendance this year compared to previous years,” Pope said in an email.

One of the new deans this year, Victor Garcia, helped implement the new tardy policy and was a co-contributor on incorporating the HERO system, which helps track tardies and attendance, and its accompanying app into the school community.

For those who don’t know, the HERO system has a downloadable app on all cell phones called “Hero Students.”

After signing into the app, the program provides its users with a digital copy of their school ID to make it easily accessible to them whenever they need it scanned. This app also helps track tardies and the amount of service hours a student has.

While tardies aren’t the easiest issue to handle, Garcia said he looks forward to helping kids get through them.

“I enjoy when students come in to the Dean’s Office to ask about how they can serve time and problem solve ways to avoid earning more service hours.”

Pope also mentioned four aspects about the policy he said were important for students to know.

  1. The Hero app is extremely useful.  Every student should download this application.  Your schedule, your ID and all service time are all easily accessed via this app.
  2. Although he was greeted by some “boos” at the opening assembly, he said he still loves the students here, and he expected a negative reaction to the new procedures at first.
  3. He said he is hopeful that students will find future policy/procedure changes are made with input from students with students’ best interests in mind.
  4. If a student goes 10 consecutive days without a tardy, he/she is moved back a step on the [consequence] scale. This is a built-in positive system that rewards positive attendance. The same policy applies to unexcused absences.

While Pope plans to keep the tardy policy in place, he said there will be another aspect of the Hero app that will be implemented next year, but he declined to address what that new change would be. He added, though, it will be a positive addition.

The other new dean this year, Meghan Bargar, with the help of Principal Dr. Anthony Kroll, resurrected another positive reward known as the Mustang Pride Award. It “recognizes students for demonstrating exemplary character inside and/or outside of the classroom,” Bargar said.

It is a monthly award that works the following way:

  1. At the end of every month, staff nominate any students they believe are deserving of the award.
  2. After submissions are received, 10 students are recognized at a breakfast before school with their nominating teacher, parents/guardians and administration.

Bargar touched on the importance of the award by saying, “It has been a huge highlight of my first year at Mundelein and continues to reinforce my belief that each student has the potential to do great things if they put their mind and energy into it.”