Administration Press Conference Q&A

Questions and answers about West’s hot topics


Left to right: Associate Principal Mike Garnica, social worker Jenn O’Hare, Associate Principal Adam Pagett and Principal Jenni Weipert.

Emma Bernick, Media Editor

On Monday, Aug. 28, the Beak ‘n’ Eye staff held a press conference with West’s Associate Principals Adam Pagett and Mike Garnica, social worker Jenn O’Hare and Principal Jenni Weipert to discuss new programs, goals and rules for the 2017-2018 school year.


Q: Will some of the bathroom doors still be locked during class time?

Pagett: Yes, there will be one bathroom on the second floor that will still be open and there are also three bathrooms on the first floor that will be open. This includes the one by the water machine, the one just outside the boy’s locker room and the one by the cafeteria.

Q: What is the reason for locking certain bathrooms?

Pagett: It allows hallway monitors and security staff to get a better idea of what students are actually doing in the hallways. Also, it funnels kids in the direction of the only available bathrooms, so that if kids are in an area far away from the bathroom, but say they are using the restroom, security will know it isn’t true.


Q: If a student is struggling in a specific class, are they allowed to go get extra help for that class during Falcon Flex?

Pagett: The whole design of Falcon Flex is for you as a student to be able to go to the classes that you need extra help in. Because it is so new, we are going to have you go to specific classes on each day of the week. For example, Monday you will stay in your first block, Tuesday you will go to your second block, etc. As we get used to that kind of change, the goal is to be able to get you to go to the classes that you need extra help in.

Q: Could Falcon Flex potentially be used for extracurriculars?

Pagett: No, it is strictly going to be classroom instruction. You won’t see football players lifting with their coaches in the weight room during Falcon Flex.


Q: What is the official stance on backpacks and why?

Pagett: The official stance is that big backpacks are not going to be allowed, but you can take string backpacks to your classrooms. I’m going to say my reasoning is because we have so many students, our hallways get incredibly congested. The big backpacks don’t help this situation. Also, when students have all of their books in their bag, they spend the five minutes of passing time just standing in one spot. What we want is for our students to be able to go from class to class, move throughout the hallways and be able to get to where they need to be.

Garnica: The biggest reason for me is the student’s safety. Whether you believe it or not, it really is not good for your back to be carrying everything around. If you talk to a doctor or a medical professional, they will tell you that you shouldn’t be carrying more than 10 percent of your weight in a backpack. There are very valid reasons for not wanting backpacks. It’s not because we want to be mean or anything like that.

Q: What will the consequences be for students caught with large backpacks?

Pagett: Right now we are just sending students back to their lockers. Teachers should also be sending students back to their lockers at the beginning of the block. If they are sent to their locker and don’t make it back before the bell rings, they will be considered tardy.


Q: Why was a new tardy policy created?

Garnica: The old policy was that if you were tardy you got a 25 minute detention. Well, the problem was that kids were either not serving them, or they would try to serve 10 detentions right before a school dance so they could go. It just wasn’t a very effective policy.

Pagett: We had a lot of tardies last year. It was a major building problem for us.

Q: Who is keeping track of all of the tardies?

Garnica: Each associate principal, the attendance secretary, and our Diversion teacher.


Q: According to district data, there has been a major drop in West’s enrollment in the past couple of years. How is administration trying to fix this issue?

Garnica: One of the biggest things we are doing is the INSPIRE program, which includes our World Champion Robotics Team. We have also started new biomedical classes with Mr. Yoder in the science department.

Q: If we are focusing on STEM classes, what is the future for foreign language and liberal arts classes?

Garnica: They aren’t going [to go] anywhere. The English department is going to stay big. In our world language department the numbers are very strong and we have many kids that want to take all four years of world language here so they don’t have to worry about taking them in college.


Q: What was the reason for choosing the current bell sound?

Weipert: It was decided downtown that all the schools should have the same sound. They just finished our building a day before school started, so I don’t think they know what the system can and can’t do.

Q: Will the bell sound be changed in the near future?

Garnica: I am working on finding out what we can do to change it. I would like to have different sounds for the warning bell and the regular bell, as well as shorten the length of the warning bell sound. 


Q: What are the updates on the food pantry that was started last year?

O’Hare: Student senate raised over 7,000 dollars to get the plumbing done for the washer and dryer, so we are super excited about that. Zeglin’s donated a washer and dryer to us. We hope that the first delivery of food will be on September 11, the deliveries will be on the second and the fourth Mondays of the month. If anyone has extra time and needs volunteer hours, there needs to be some cleaning done down there. About 13 families utilized the pantry last year, but I would anticipate a lot more this year.

Q: Where can students make donations?

O’Hare: If kids have stuff, they can come let me know. Just make sure the donations are clean and suitable for a young adult.


Q: What are your biggest goals for the school year?

Pagett: My goal is to provide an environment for all of our students to be able to enjoy themselves and feel that West High School is the place that they want to be.

Garnica: My ultimate goal is for every student in the building to graduate. Beyond that, I would like to see increased numbers in the AP classes. I would like to see our Iowa Assessment scores go up. I would also like to see our attendance rates go up.

Weipert: I want to establish the system for Falcon Flex and get that working really well so that we can provide adequate, quality support for all students in this building so they can be successful. I would also like to increase graduation above last year, reduce failures from last year and increase the number of students that are taking AP courses next year.

Stay tuned for more information on what administration shared at the press conference.