Renovations bring a change in direction
Many local citizens say that Live Oak High School finally reflects the quality of education and support that has always been provided there. Students and staff were welcomed to the 2011-2012 school year with a newly renovated campus. With these changes, some staff members are experimenting with extracurricular programs to give students opportunities to enrich their high school experiences.
LOHS actively participates in many major social events, including Every 15 Minutes, a program that highlights the effects of drunk driving. This year, LOHS also is dedicated to Rachel's Challenge, which focuses on the importance of being kind and sparking a chain reaction of kindness.
Rachel's Challenge began after the death of Rachel Scott in the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Colorado. LOHS Vice Principal Tony Walton decided to bring the Challenge to Live Oak, saying it will inspire "students to look inside themselves and to be better citizens and friends to each other." Although tight-lipped about the details, he added, "We're always kind, but we can do better. Kids will love it."
Organizations on campus are also attempting to arouse student interest. Link Crew, upperclassmen who assist incoming freshmen to adjust to high school life, usually focused mainly on freshman orientation in August. This year, however, they plan to expand Link Crew's presence into both semesters.
Mike Owen, science teacher and one of the Link Crew advisers, explained, "We're trying to make Link Crew a more recognized group on campus by having more in-class and extracurricular activities. I felt that Link Crew would get off to a good start, but would eventually not make enough regular connections with freshmen.
"Hopefully, this will result in higher GPAs, graduation rates and more post-secondary plans," he added.
Student involvement is expected to increase, especially within the Associated Student Body. Leslie Ruby, an English teacher and adviser for ASB, has organized the first Student Senate, where a representative from each fourth period class will meet with ASB officers to exchange ideas. "Students will feel their voices are being heard," she said. "They'll be able to see the democratic process as it happens."
Ultimately, these programs seek to encourage students to become part of an active, close-knit community. To do this, organizations must address two distinct groups: Freshmen need incentive to stray from their comfort zones, while 10th- through 12th-graders must be drawn into programs they may have initially shown no interest in.
Freshman Olivia Shelmire, 14, said, "I haven't really heard much about these changes. There need to be advertisements that make the clubs 'pop.'"
Senior Hamera Khan, 17, said, "Students will be better informed. These activities will spark a lot of interest and a desire to learn more."
This new school year will be much like any other — tests in abundance and homecoming enthusiasm — yet these changes could signal the possibility of new, exciting experiences at Live Oak High School.
Ciria Salazar is a senior at Live Oak High School. Her column appears every six weeks in Education.