by Geoff Fox
Students across Washington County will be heading back to school next Tuesday, September 3, and will be entering into schools with new policies, new faces, and of course familiar faces.
This school year at Hancock Middle-Senior High School will be the first for new principal Christopher Cline.
It will also be the first at the school for Thomas Flynn, the new high school government teacher; Ed Morris, the new high school math teacher; Kevin Seburn, the new high school physics teacher; and Jackie Bennett, the new media specialist.
Morris and Seburn have worked in Washington County before coming to Hancock, Cline said in an email.
Back to school night for grades six through 12 will be held at Hancock Middle-Senior High School on Thursday, September 5 starting at 6 p.m.
New cellphone policy
There is a new policy regarding the use of cellphones by students. The policy is countywide and was adopted during the WCPS Board of Education meeting on July 16.
The policy prohibits students from using personally owned electronic devices during instructional time, which is defined in the policy.
The policy defines any personally owned electronic device as any electronic or battery powered instrument which transmits or receives voice, text, data, pictures, video, or information in any form including, but not limited to, cellphones, laptop computers, smart phones, beepers, two-way radios, tablets, electronic readers, smart watches, earbuds, headphones, and language translators, not owned by WCPS.
The device must be kept turned off and out of sight during instructional time. Use of devices during instructional time is no longer at the discretion of the teacher or supervising adult.
The policy is based on time of arrival on school property until departure with instructional time being that allocated for instruction during the school day.
The policy does not allow students to use devices to take photographs or record audio or video in school, during the school day, or on a school bus.
Cline emailed The Hancock News a copy of a letter from Superintendent Boyd Michael regarding the policy.
In the letter, Michael says a school administrator may still take temporary possession of a personally-owned electronic device if the use disrupts the learning environment, creates safety concerns, violates the confidentiality or privacy of others, or otherwise violates the policy.
An administrator may also take temporary possession of such device if a student is attempting to use it during a time when it is prohibited.
Focus on literacy
Cline said he is anticipating a great year and has a positive outlook.
“Our main focuses are: raising expectations for all students, increasing our school culture and climate, and focusing on literacy in all classes (read, write, think) as well as what skills our students need in order to be successful in classes, assessments, and beyond high school,” Cline said.
Michelle Gest will begin her 13th year at Hancock Elementary School this yea
r and has a few changes in store at the school.
The elementary school falls under the new county-wide cellphone policy, but there is a new safety policy in place as well for the elementary school.
Gest said Pre-K and Kindergarten students would be given safety vests to wear each day for the bus home.
“This will help bus drivers identify PreK and K students,” she said in an email to The Hancock News. The vests would then be returned each day in the students’ book bag.
Gest also said Pre-K and Kindergarten students must have an adult meet them at their bus stop in the afternoon.
Class lists were mailed home with report cards in June, but they are also available on the school’s Facebook page and copies of the lists in the school office as well.
Hancock Elementary will also have seven new teachers this year when students enter the building next week.
Jill Mellott will be the new Kindergarten teacher, Darleane Lowe is the new first grade teacher, Amber Kirk the new second grade teacher, Tabatha Tyson the new Speech Language Pathologist, with Danette Santor and Maggie Cunningham new to the Pre-K program.
Gest said there will be two all-day Pre-K class at Hancock Elementary.
“We encourage all parents with children who will be four by Sept. 1st to register their child for Pre-K,” she said.
Gest also encourages any parent who has a child who will be five by September 1 and hasn’t registered their child for Kindergarten to do so this week.
Gest is optimistic about the upcoming school year.
“I look forward to another great year with the students, staff, and parents at Hancock Elementary,” She said. “Hancock Elementary is a great place to be!”