The administrators of Eastside High School hosted the school's first informal, "town hall" style meeting for parents and members of the community Wednesday night.
Principal Robert Daria, entering his third year as Eastside's principal, welcomed those who attended and explained he and his assistant principals designed the meeting to inform them about Eastside administrators' roles and outline their basic goals.
"We wanted to do a better job of sharing information with our parents and communicating with our community," Daria said.
Letters were sent home with all of Eastside's students and mailed to 35 area churches and civic organizations.
"Even though we only have 20 to 25 parents here," Daria said, "it's a start."
Daria said he encourages teachers to provide instructional time from bell to bell, be on time and treat the students as they would want their children treated.
He also promised vigilance in the school - mentioning since he has been principal, only one student has been referred to the office for smoking in the bathroom.
The assistant principal who handles office referrals and all disciplinary measures is Bruce McColum.
McColum reminded parents that three of Eastside's administrators are parents and will always treat students with respect and fairness.
"We want to assure you this will be a safe, nurturing learning environment for your children," McColum said.
He said he has been in other schools where all teachers did not watch for and correct inappropriate behavior as they do at Eastside and, therefore, had seen food fights, fist fights and other "raunchy" acts committed by teenagers.
"I befriend a lot of students - I give a lot of high-fives in the hall - but they know if they get sent to the office with a referral, that I have to flip the switch," McColum said.
Assistant Principal Gloria Griffith handles curriculum implementation and testing.
"We've made AYP for the last three years and we're very proud of that," Griffith said.
She said making AYP (adequate yearly progress based on the No Child Left Behind Act) consecutively has marked Eastside as a "school of distinction."
Griffith also mentioned Eastside students consistently record SAT scores higher than the national average and last year's seniors earned more than $2 million dollars in scholarship offers.
She also explained that students need 28 course credits and must pass all five sections of the Georgia High School Graduation Test to participate in commencement exercises.
"What that means is, your child will not be able to march across that stage if they don't pass those tests," Griffith said.
She reassured parents that students who fail have five opportunities to re-take any section and can received computer-based tutoring every day after school if needed.
Dennis Roddenberry, assists McColum as a disciplinary assistant principal and acts as the school's athletic director. He said Eastside offers 12 different sports - eight for males and nine for girls, with this year's addition of competitive cheerleading.
"That number seems strange because in the old days it was the other way around," Roddenberry said.
He said Eastside administrators strive for gender equity in all facets of education including athletics. Roddenberry added Eastside coaches will not allow students with struggling grades to miss a tutoring session for sports practice.
"Our coaches stress that they have to be a student first," Roddenberry said, "and an athlete second."
Roddenberry promised parents of outstanding athletes that his coaches would help parents in accomplishing any collegiate goals their children held.
Daria concluded by stating he and all his employees wanted the best for all Eastside's students asking everyone to help.
"If we don't have the community supporting Eastside High School," Daria said, "then it will just become another school out there in the dust."