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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 7 ~ May 24, 2000

I was impressed by the new Santa Fe Middle School principal Ron Letourneau. Wound a little tight, perhaps, but I like that. He also has an interesting program he has introduced. Check it out below.
~ Brad Haugaard

M&Ms ~ At the board meeting Wednesday night, a bunch of Clifton Middle School students were honored for their science projects. The projects ranged from the ever-popular "Effects of erosion on sloping soil" to, "Do M&M packets really have the percentage of each color candy as the company says?" My favorites were, "Does the presence of a police car parked at a corner increase the likelihood that cars will come to a complete stop?" (Yes, by the way), and "What is the effect of humidity on hair?" (Didn't get the official word on that one.)

500 TO ONE ~ In honoring the district's counselors for receiving the LA County Office of Education's Cutting Edge Award, one counselor (I don't know her name because she wasn't introduced - sigh) said that with a student-counselor ratio of 500-to-one at Monrovia High, the district has a lot of work to do. But, she added, the work has begun.

AWARDS ~ New Santa Fe Middle School Principal Ron Letourneau said one of the problems with most awards programs is that the students who are not doing well never get one, so he has introduced a program he started at Charter Oaks High School to honor students for small achievements. Say a 1.0 student improves his grade point average to 1.5. He gets an award. A student improves his attendance. Award. Letourneau said he personally honors about four students a day in this way, and the kids love it. That sounds like a pretty good idea. I'm a bit skeptical (for older kids) of those everybody-gets-an-award approaches, but this seems different - he's recognizing kids for real (albeit small) achievements, and hopefully encouraging them to take even bigger steps. By the way, the program will be introduced at Monrovia High next school year.

VIOLENCE ~ Speaking of Santa Fe, a parent (apparently representing about eight other parents who had come with her) asked that the board do something about violence at Santa Fe and other schools. She said her son has been harassed during the three years he has been there and has been beaten twice this year and was attacked with a pen in a third incident. She said when she moved to Monrovia she was told the schools had zero tolerance for violence, but that hasn't been her experience. Superintendent Louise Taylor said there have been a series of incidents in the past few months, said there would be discussions about it, and added something about teaching students "life skills." I guess "life skills" means not beating people up, but your guess is as good as mine.

HYPER ~ Speaking of Letourneau, he struck me as, well... hyper. I mean that in a good way. He couldn't stand still behind the microphone; he was all excited about his job and promised to come back to get names of people from board members whom he could pester for support for his awards program (He said he'd make them feel guilty if that's what it takes). He said he takes kids around to businesses to mooch merchandise for his awards program (They can't say "no" when a kid is along, he said). He got rolling and said In-And-Out Burger sent him 60 cheeseburgers (I think he meant 60 certificates, but he was going kinda fast) and that Pepsi sent him cases of Coke (Like I say, he was getting rather excited). I could go on, but I think you get the idea. He seems like just the right personality for a bunch of squirrely middle schoolers. (Does "squirrely" have one or two "l's"?)

SANTA FE SCORES ~ I happened to catch some numbers during Latourneau's presentation. There are 644 students at Santa Fe. Of these, there are 6 A students, 210 B students, 325 C students, 119 D students and 4 F students.

DETECTIVE ~ You may, perhaps, be wondering how I know it was Ron Latourneau who spoke at the meeting. Perhaps, you guess, he was introduced. 'Fraid not, though the director of the Canyon Early Learning Center was, so we're making progress. How I discovered his name was that a board member mentioned something about a "Mr. Latoro" or something, referring to the man who spoke about Santa Fe, then the speaker who complained of violence mentioned somewhat more clearly that "Mr. Latourneau" had been helpful, then I remembered I had written about a new principal at Santa Fe in an earlier letter, so I looked it up at home and got the spelling. Just like being a detective.

CARS ~ The district picked up another three vehicles this meeting, all gifts destined for the high school's auto shop. An old Mitsubishi pickup, an '81 Toyota and an '82 Dodge. It seems every time I attend one of these meetings they get a car or two. Let's see, two cars per meeting, two meetings per month, twelve months in a year. That's 48 cars a year! Where do they put 'em all?

NO ~ I was amused at this item, "Approval of Monrovia High School 2000 Graduates. Action: approve the Monrovia High School students for graduation on June 15, 2000." Hmmm. What would happen if the board voted "No"? Would the students have to stay in high school another year? I think I better wrap this up; I'm getting punchy.

LAZY ~ Hey, would you do me a favor and pass this along. I'm too lazy to do it myself but I'd like some more people to subscribe. Thanks! Just have your friends send me an email at brad_h@iname.com and ask to get on the list.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next regular meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13 at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive. Be there or be square. Yeah, I'd rather be square too.

Copyright (c) 2000, Brad Haugaard