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The Oriole

The student newspaper of Augusta High School

The Oriole

The student newspaper of Augusta High School

The Oriole

Principals adjust school to be more open, welcoming to students, staff

Photo by Justin Gwaltney
Principal Rick Rivera and assistant principal TJ Meyer host the first coffee with the principals in the library, discussing with teachers, parents, students and community members their goals and plans for the school Sept. 20, with 7 people in attendance. This event is just one of the many ways Rivera and Meyer make the school a more open and welcoming place.

Over the past couple of years, principal Rick Rivera, assistant principal TJ Meyer and athletic director Josh Ybarra have been working to improve the school into a welcoming place for students, staff and the community.

“I want school to be a place that students and staff want to come every day,” Meyer said. 

As the assistant principal, Meyer deals with discipline and attendance issues on a daily basis.

“If we can make this place a more welcoming, inviting environment, kids are going to be more likely to want to come to school,” Meyer said.

For Meyer, a positive school culture has to happen before learning can take place.

“It’s all about how people feel when they walk into the building, and that’s for both students and staff,” Meyer said.

Junior Devon Stamback agrees with the idea.

“Making the school a welcoming place is a step in the right direction,” Stamback said.

Rivera and Meyer started this task of making the school feel welcome by holding several events within the school.

“On Sept. 20, we had a cookout in the courtyard as our way of saying thanks for having a great start to the year,” Rivera said. “It also gives us an opportunity to be in front of kids and be seen in a different positive light.”

A cookout is not the only way Rivera and Meyer have interacted with students. They also hosted a coffee with the principals, which allows parents and community members access to what happens within the school.

“The goal of coffee with the principals is for us to sit down with community members and parents, and just share what’s happening within the school,” Rivera said. “It allows for parents to ask questions and really just an opportunity to talk.”

Rivera wants communication between students, staff, administration and parents to be easily accessible.

“A lot of times, there’s a lot of misconceptions on what’s happening in our school or why things are happening,” Rivera said. “When we can open up those lines of communication, it clarifies a lot of the miscommunication or misconceptions that are out there.”

Another way Rivera has created transparency throughout the school and to the community is posting pictures on social media showing what is happening in both classrooms and during field trips.

“Whether it’s a chemistry experiment, kids going fishing, learning how to mix concrete, having a debate in English class or diving into market research in our business classes, those things are what the general public doesn’t get to see happen,” Rivera said. “Our goal is to give people an inside perspective, an insider’s view of what’s happening in our building on a daily basis.”

Rivera and Meyer focus on sharing positive posts.

“A lot of people miss out on the good things that students are doing every day and the hard work students are putting in,” Meyer said. “The teachers are also putting [in] just as much effort, so we wanted to highlight that more.”

Meyer also started a positive notes system on Fridays as a way to continue spreading positivity throughout the school.

“The notes are a way to spread kindness and generosity in an inexpensive way,” Meyer said. “We love to see positivity around the school.”

These events are a way to make a positive impact on the school.

Having more events hosted within the school is a great way to promote transparency,” Stamback said. 

These events were put out in the Friday update emails Rivera sends out, but Stamback did not know where to look.

“ I didn’t even know the coffee with the principals was a thing, so more outreach on these events could help,” Stamback said.

Overall, Rivera and Meyer want school to be a place where students want to show up, learn and leave with a positive attitude, and Stamback sees the school in this way.

“As a whole, our school is a fairly welcoming place,” Stamback said. “The student-made decorations around the hallways do a decent job to make the atmosphere more relaxed, and the teachers also do a good job of making their classrooms look welcoming.”

Stamback also enjoys some of the other ways the staff keeps school positive.

“I really like the friendly class competition that happens over the announcements with the Name That Tune game,” Stamback said. “I would love to see more of that.”

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About the Contributor
Justin Gwaltney, Editor-in-Chief
Senior Justin Gwaltney is The Oriole Editor-in-Chief. This is Gwaltney’s second year leading the staff. He joined staff in the second semester of his freshman year, so this is his third and a half year writing for The Oriole. He joined the staff as he always loves writing stories, so allowing him to also present information about our school to the community was a win-win situation. He enjoys playing 2nd bass drum for the drumline and competing with his friends on the scholars bowl team. Some big accomplishments for Gwaltney include achieving Eagle Scout, as well as memorizing 100 digits of pi. In the future, he hopes to become an English educator for the high school level, in order to inspire and teach future generations.
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