Midyear School Check-up:
Recently I interviewed Mr. Cassel about this school year and what has happened so far, and what is still to come for this school in the preceding year(s). Below are some of the questions I asked him, and the answers I’ve received.
(Me:) What do you think are some of the biggest changes you or the other staff members have made this year? And why do you think you and the other staff members might have made those changes?
(Mr. Cassel:) I think that we’ve made more of an effort to get to know our students. We’ve had 33 staff members that have attended a conference this past summer in Nashville, TN. The conference was called the Model School Conference. That conference focused on 3 different areas - Rigor, Relevance, and relationships in teaching. We desire to become a shining star in Northeast Indiana. We’ll continue to work through the process of becoming better every day for our students and community.
(Just some more proof that Mr. Cassel and the other staff members keep working to make this school a better place for us students and the community.)
(Me:) What is something -or maybe things- that you think have been a big issue or problem this year? And how could we students try to help change or stop it?
(Mr. Cassel:) eLearning is always a struggle. It’s not the most effective way to learn, however it becomes necessary if you don’t want to have the school year extended into June. Students don’t usually give their best effort toward eLearning. It’s also difficult because it puts a lot of responsibility and strain on parents. As students, I would hope they realize the importance of the work, developing the work ethics, and recognize that doing their best will help them in the future.
(This is some proof that there are struggles in our school, and that we students could prevent them. All we have to do is our eLearning work and it’d make it that much easier for our parents and teachers.)
(Me:) What are some positive changes that you’ve experienced throughout this school year that you’d like our school to continue doing?
(Mr. Cassel:) As a staff, we’ve focused on building positive and supportive relationships with our students. I believe that students learn best when they feel valued and appreciated in a classroom. I certainly would hope that we continue to grow in this area in an effort to help our students achieve their goals. We also have noticed an increase in extracurricular involvement. This is the only way we can continue to grow and improve our athletics and clubs.
(Me:) What are some challenges that you or our school have faced throughout this year that were totally unexpected and how do you think they’ve affected our school?
(Mr. Cassel:) While I don’t like to say the word, COVID has continued to have an impact on our school year. Between illness, quarantines, and eLearning, it has been hard to get into a solid routine for the year. I feel like the impact is students not always learning in the best environment, which I believe is face to face. However, I think our teachers and students have done an outstanding job of pushing through it all.
(Me:) I read some previous articles online that had mentioned our school, and came across an article about the increase in enrollment in County Schools. What I was wondering was whether our school’s enrollment met our enrollment goals for the year.
(Mr. Cassel:) While we don’t have formal enrollment goals, we have been fortunate to experience growth over the past 4 years. We have gained approximately 80 students in that time frame.
As a follow-up question, I asked.
(Me:) What are Hamilton’s enrollment goals or expectations for the next few years?
(Mr. Cassel:) My hope is that we continue to attract students to Hamilton over the next several years. I personally believe that we are a great school that often feels like family. I don't believe you always get that in bigger school settings.
(Me:) What could us students or maybe even the staff do to maybe bring more students in and get them interested in attending Hamilton?
(Mr. Cassel:) I have asked, and try to frequently ask students why they chose Hamilton. Many talk about the smaller setting, the setting being friendly, and the access to teachers. I know that many Hamilton students are friends with individuals who don’t attend here. I feel like the biggest thing that students can do is to be involved, work hard to make Hamilton the best it can be, and speak up about the things you guys like about attending here.
(Me:) If we meet those enrollment goals, what adjustments will need to be made, such as adding teachers (what subjects or grade), programs, classroom space, etc.?
(Mr. Cassel:) Administration is always reviewing numbers, staffing, course offerings, etc. This will and would continue through a growth period if levels begin to become steadier.
(Me:) I’ve heard that Hamilton is planning on adding solar panels and maybe even a tennis court this coming summer. If that’s true, what other big plans might you and the staff have for our school in the coming year or years?
(Mr. Cassel:) Yes, we are in the process of working through the details and legal aspects of adding a solar project on the west side of the campus (behind the football field). At the peak of the season, the school would operate on an 80/20 solar ratio. (Meaning 80% solar and 20% on the electric grid.) Obviously, during shorter days or less sunny days, the ratio would vary.
Tennis courts will begin this spring (around April). We see this not only as a benefit to our students and school but also to the community. From a student/school perspective, we can explore adding tennis as a sport. Physical education classes will also be able to utilize the courts. From a community standpoint, it will welcome community members onto our campus to a great facility. The project should be completed by mid to the end of July.
Our future plans will be to survey students to gain insight into what clubs/sports they might be interested in. This will help us develop a short and long-term plan related to those areas.
In conclusion to these questions and answers, Mr. Cassel and the other staff are doing the best they possibly can to make this school as great as possible. I hope that all students can contribute by being respectful to school property, and participating in any school activities that can promote our school. This school is very important to all of us even if we don’t want to admit it. I don’t think any of us would want it to shut down and have to leave our friends. We’re all like one big family in this school, so please treat each other with respect and treat our school and its staff with respect too.