Alamosa News | The vision of a “new normal” at AHS


ALAMOSE – Andy Lavier, principal of Alamosa High School, is serious about involving students in school activities. For Lavier, student engagement isn’t just a philosophy, it’s a strategy for addressing a challenge that has existed for some time in public schools, but which has become particularly evident in the wake of the pandemic that has had a huge impact on education.

In the fall of 2020, as school returned and students adjusted to being in the classroom after a disruptive previous year, Lavier observed a marked increase in the number of students failing in class and students who had discipline problems at school. .

“We see a lot of bad grades and bad behavior,” Lavier told school board members at a meeting. “Every principal I talk to across the state is going through the same thing. This may be the new normal.

Although there is currently a lack of long-term studies correlating the disruption of school routines caused by the pandemic to more students failing at least one class and exhibiting behavioral problems in school, Lavier’s statement is backed up by an abundance of teachers and teachers. administrators telling stories of how “school has changed” for many children. And people don’t fail to say “this is how it will be from now on”.

However, for Andy Lavier, saying that the situation was the new normal and accepting it as such are two very different things. In the months since he brought his concerns to the school board, Lavier — whom Assistant Superintendent Luis Murillo describes as showing “relentless leadership” — has worked alongside his staff to reduce “bad grades, bad behavior” by increasing the programs and activities students can participate in. and enjoy it while keeping them connected to teachers and other students.

“Anytime you ask a child who is having trouble what activities they do in school,” Lavier told members at this week’s school board meeting, “Everytime they say ‘nothing’. Lavier listed the reasons as varied — sometimes kids don’t have transportation after school, sometimes they have obligations at home. He listed a myriad of reasons, but they all came to the same conclusion: troubled children often don’t participate in school activities.

AHS’s response was to develop a whole new variety of activities appealing to a wide range of interests, from a chess club to a billiards club to a student coloring club. whose interests went in these directions. All activities were designed to attract and engage students who, in some cases, had never participated in extracurricular activities before. Lavier describes the response as “encouraging and pleasing to see”.

Academically, an after-school tutoring program has also yielded excellent results. Offered before final exams and coordinated by social studies teacher Sarah Ramirez, the after-school peer tutoring session was enthusiastically received by students.

“We couldn’t believe how many kids showed up,” Lavier says. “There were so many students, we had to run to buy a lot more pizzas to feed them all.

The result? A 33% decrease in the number of failed students.

Another success was seen when esports – trialled in the school district last year – recently kicked off and was enthusiastically received.

And recently, at the Alamosa School District School Board meeting this week, Director Lavier and John Reesor of the City of Alamosa Parks and Recreation Program presented the board with a new curriculum.

Created for Alamosa High School students and offered in partnership with City of Alamosa Parks and Recreation, Alpine Achievers Initiative, and Adams State Adventure Program, the High School Outdoor Leadership and Recreation Club (HOLR) will provide students with the opportunity to ride mountain bikes, snowshoeing, rock climbing outdoors and on the wall at ASU as well as water sports including paddleboarding and rafting. A veritable cornucopia of experiences connecting children to their environment, to others and, perhaps in some cases, to themselves, their strengths and abilities.

“It’s a real collaboration,” Lavier told the board.

The objectives of the HOLR program are relevant and clearly defined. HOLR will help young people improve their mental and physical health, develop leadership skills, facilitate mentorship between students and community members, improve academic performance, and promote connections between students and the world where they live in the San Luis Valley. Funding for the program comes from Generation Wild through a GOCO grant from the state of Colorado.

John Reesor, who provides outdoor adventure programs for students at Ortega Middle School, sees this program as a continuation of the experiences and skills he has been providing WHO since 2018. The hope is to link possibly HOLR at the Adams State Adventure program. which offers college credit to those who successfully complete the course.

But, at least for now, Andy Lavier views the entire effort to engage — and, in some cases, re-engage — students as an important step toward Alamosa High School creating and growing their own “new normal” at the both now and in the future.

Anyone interested in learning more about HOLR can do so by calling John Reesor at 719-937-7832 or emailing him at [email protected]


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