After returning to a normal schedule from an 18-month break, it can be hard to remember how everything used to be as several aspects of school were modified during the pandemic to better students’ learning as much as possible. One of those aspects that was changed during the pandemic was how school announcements were conveyed to the students.
“During the virtual learning time, we really had to rethink how we were getting information to people,” Assistant Principal Mike Pope said.
The solution? The District 120 website was where the announcements could be found last year, as it was accessible to the public and in a logical spot.
As a result, the decision was made to keep the announcements in that same spot and not read them over the PA system during second period this year like they had been before the pandemic– despite students being back to in-person learning.
Pope offered a reason for this decision.
“Every year, so many areas of the building can’t hear them that it becomes not worth it,” he said. “It’s either too loud or too soft.”
In some locations within the building, such as the gym and locker rooms or off-campus, such as Tech Campus or internship class on-site locations, there is no way to hear the announcements. Because that seemed like enough people who couldn’t hear them on a daily basis, the choice was made to move them to a more accessible location.
While the effort to help every last student is appreciated, taking the announcements away from the whole student body feels counterintuitive. Since the majority of students can hear them over the PA, it only makes sense to keep the announcements how they were before the pandemic hit.
“I think it’s kind of annoying [the way it currently is] because I’m not checking the D120 page daily,” Freshman Mariana Van Eycke said. “[After the Pledge of Allegiance] is better, especially because it’s a longer period than all the other ones.”
On the regular eight period schedule, an extra five minutes has been built into the second period since the eight-period schedule first came out in August of 2017. It was designed that way to ensure teachers didn’t lose instructional time from the Pledge of Allegiance or school announcements.
Since the Pledge of Allegiance is only about 30 seconds long, that leaves four and a half minutes for important announcements that apply to the whole student body. Therefore, it seems logical to keep announcing information during that period, especially since it’s closer to the beginning of the day, which gives students time to plan what they will be attending that day.
Students seem to miss the accessibility of these announcements so much that 35 juniors and seniors, under the guidance of AP Language Teacher Beth Willis, voluntarily created an informal Communications and Outreach Committee to create a solution for the student body.
“The Communications and Outreach Committee is a group of students who wanted to improve communication among students at MHS so that more students would be informed about what is going on at [the school],” Willis said. “The goal is to get more students involved in all the activities that the school has to offer.”
Each week the student volunteers gather information on the different clubs, sports and organizations by searching the school’s website and/or asking sponsors or student leaders about upcoming events. They, then, meet once a week to gather the information into a single document. Finally, they work with Staff Member Kathryn Serby to push the newsletter out to students.
“Every Sunday night, students are sent out an email containing the most recent issue of ‘What’s Happening, Mustangs?,’ allowing students to know what the week ahead provides in regards to school events,” said Junior Ava McQuain, who works on this newsletter. “If students discard these emails, however, posters containing the most recent issue of ‘What’s Happening, Mustangs?’ can be found within the school bathrooms as well as on varying cork boards throughout the school.”
McQuain also mentioned how, unlike the second-period announcements that covered both school-wide events and daily club meetings, this newsletter only covers school-wide events.
This student initiative deserves recognition for the proactive measure students took to make sure other students are informed. Such a large group of students coming together for voluntary work, though, is a sign that changing the announcements back to being given over the PA system is wanted and needed by many students.
If the daily announcements were to be put back on the PA system, students would be equipped with lots of information about activities and events going on in the larger MHS community.
After all, the daily announcements were a familiar normal for many students and were helpful with remembering everything that goes on in this busy community. The purpose of announcements is to get people involved and to build school spirit. Therefore, keep the announcements on the D120 homepage and keep the student newsletter but put the announcements back on the PA system during second period, too. The more aware students are of school events, the more likely they are to get involved.