Exam week can be a very unique for our students in the fall. Students can have anywhere from 3-5 finals during a four day stretch. This is a very personalized experience as they can exempt an exam or two if they meet the criteria. Depending on their scheduling choices, exams look very different in academic classes compared to athletics and fine arts. Some take traditional exams while others are project or performance based. It is a unique week. We also try to balance this with testing over four days as opposed to many high schools which get it done in 2-3 days. The scheduling of the 4th and 5th period exams on different days guarantees one exam on that day because these are our lunch periods.
The mood around campus takes on a new feeling as each day passes. As our students complete exams after 1 pm, they begin to realize that the first semester is quickly coming to an end. The notion of having some down time from WHS becomes a reality each day as they have more time off campus each day. The excitement is coupled with some hesitation as they do realize that it may be three weeks before they see some of their friends, teachers, directors and coaches again.
No matter if you are a teenager or a 4o year veteran teacher, the one true constant is that down time is going to happen soon. When I visit with our students during this week, we talk how exams are going and what the plans are for the break. It has been amazing to see how the bare necessities are the deepest wish: sleep, good food, time with friends and family. These are also the sentiments and hope of our faculty as well. Parents seem to share these same hopes. Whether this quiet and personal time happens on a beach in the Caribbean, a ski lodge in Utah, a family farm in Kansas, or their home in Austin, everyone wants sometime away from the daily schedule and routine. We hope you can take advantage of the break and enjoy some relief from the everyday grind as a student, parent or teacher.
If you have trouble figuring out how to enjoy a break from your normal groove, simply ask your kids or spouse or close friends when it is when they believe you are truly relaxing. On the drive into school today, my kids and I remembered that “Rogue One” is coming out this weekend and we discussed when we would go see it over the break. It was a must see for as my youngest pointed out, “you (daddy) love a good movie with popcorn. You never seem to stop smiling when we share popcorn.” That is true. The list my girls generated was very simple but highly accurate. Ask those around you about your list….sometimes others are a great source of documenting when they see us enjoying life’s moments.
It's always a great day to be a Chaparral! I wish everyone a Happy Holiday and a wonderful New Year!
Relationship skills/collaboration matters! Harvard psychologist and Grant Study director Robert Waldinger shares “What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness” in his TED Talks video. He states, "The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.” As Eanes employees, we hope you are able to spend quality time with family and friends over this winter holiday. Making memories and building positive relationships does matter!
I hope you take the time to watch the TED Talk mentioned in the information above. No matter what our age, there are some fantastic reminders about the importance of building, maintaining and safeguarding our deepest relationships with our loved ones. While I do not have teenagers at this point, I know I need reminders about building relationships with my children and wife as we get so busy with our life and careers. As my 5th grade twins assert more independence, it is amazing how I must purposely make time to spend with them in meaningful ways. The rush of soccer, basketball, singing and studying can make their lives as hectic as mine from their perspective.
As I have spent time in our sophomore, junior and senior English classes this fall, parts of my message seem to resonate with our students deeply. The idea of the relationships our students share inside our building make us unique. The ability to get along with each other due to our level of respect and kindness shown to each other is rather special. We all agreed this is not a perfect place, but it is a unique place for our students. I also discuss the importance of the collective morality we share from our elementary, middle and high school experience. From day one in Eanes, we know what is right and wrong, and we are encouraged to continue to teach and model this for our students. Students should care for each other, their teachers, and community to continue to make this an authentic environment. We can only achieve this through the relationships we have with our parents as a campus. When people ask me about the magic or mystique of this district, my answer is always the relationships. As we head towards finals and the break, let’s all look towards our own happiness by making our relationships our priority.
It's always a great day to be a Chaparral!
Kindness. The ability of our kids to display kindness is on display each and every day at Westlake High School. Kindness towards each other, their teachers, and our staff. We have a program called Chaparral Champions that recognizes students and staff who display proper Social and Emotional Awareness on our campus. One of the strands that seem to always come to the top is our students being kind.
Kindness is seen as students helping teachers prepare for the start of the school day by removing chairs from tables, turning on computers, running simple errands, and surprising teachers with a coffee or breakfast taco. It is kids making sure that all students have a partner or group to work in. It is students respecting each other's voices in class discussions. It is students helping students in class with assignments who may be struggling. It is making sure all students feel included at school activities-lunches, pep rallies, dances, and in the hallways. It is students thanking each other and adults for holding doors. It is being told at events off campus how respectful and kind our students are towards adults and students. It is kids thanking teachers as they leave a classroom with the bell.
While our students are not perfect and have displays of the opposite as described above, it is nice to note that we have lots of good things happening daily. Upon my return to this campus, I have noticed that the intrinsic rewards for being helpful, kind, tolerant and respectful are at the heart of our students’ actions. They simply believe this how we should interact as a campus. This is a message we encourage as a campus.
“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” - Princess Diana
With the announcement yesterday, I would to thank this community for your support and kindness over my 15 years in Eanes ISD.
Steve Ramsey: WHS Principal Blog
Principal's Weekly Reflections