As the year winds to a close, there are many things to reflect on over the 2014-2015 Mountain Vista school year. Vista Now sat down with Principal Michael Weaver for his take on the school year.
Vista Now: How do you feel the 2014-2015 Mountain Vista school year went?
Michael Weaver: I think it’s been a very good year. We have had a lot of changes, like the schedule, the large freshman class and instituting things like Freshmen Seminar. Structurally, I think it’s been a very good year. I think the Senior Class has been great and the teachers are taking some risks.
VN: There has been a lot of controversy this year over standardized testing. The government has more control in that regard and some people think that the school has more power over testing than it really does. With that said, do you have any plans regarding the testing for next year?
MW: That’s really in the hands of the legislatures and, like you said, our impact is minimal. Based on the statewide opt-out movement, I think we’re going to see some changes next year and we’re going to watch passively. I think this year went about as good as we could expect. We tried to honor the families who didn’t want to take the test and encourage kids to do their best and take it seriously. I think we had the best of both worlds. I would guess big changes on the legal side.
VN: A lot students in Mountain Vista have a habit of learning something just for the sake of a test, and then completely forget what they have learned. How do you plan to combat this issue?
MW: I think, in terms of learning and student growth in high school, we try to encourage teachers to think that it’s two different lanes to talk about. The content, which is the material, and the life-long skills. We want to recognize both. If in class you’re learning mathematical equations, you’re learning the equation for the test but also learning problem-solving skills. We want to have the staff teach both and understand the balance. I guarantee you that you’ll forget names and dates, but will have learned how to support an argument and problem solve.
VN: Since I have been here, it seems as if school spirit has become a bigger and bigger part of school life. What specifically has the school done to try and institute this and how does the school plan to continue instituting school spirit?
MW: At the foundation of everything we do, it is important to develop a philosophy of a comprehensive, all-inclusive environment and make it a part of our nature. When we develop a philosophy that has something for every kid, it allows for a lot of good things to come from it and it gives kids a better understanding of the interests and abilities of others. I think the efforts of student leadership and social media and the success of programs like Freshmen Success have contributed to that. To keep it going, once a tradition is established it makes things more fun and involved.
VN: Like any school year, there are bound to be problems that arise. Are there any problems from this year that you would like to address?
MW: I think school-to-home communication is at the core of a lot of issues. We want to work with staff, parents and students to help everyone succeed. We dealt with parking issues in the parking lot, and with grading as kids and parents are very conscientious. Drug and alcohol use has also become a bigger problem unfortunately.
VN: What are some success from Mountain Vista this year that you think are noteworthy?
MW: I think the involvement in a huge variety of things and activities, the positive staff, teachers starting to take risks, and I think the overall success of our academic programs.
VN: What can students, parents and teachers expect for the 2015-2016 school year?
MW: I think, for the most part, the building is in a good place for a lot of areas. I think there will be changes subliminally. Going back to what you said, some are how staff works with kids and makes learning relevant. We want to make things more student driven, give students more of a voice and more choice in facilitating their own learning. I think this will be visible in the next few years.