Back to basics

Leonard makes plans to return Starr’s Mill to pre-COVID practices


Jenson Mahr

New welcome sign posted next to the intercom at the front office. This year, Principal Allen Leonard wants to focus on getting back to the basics of learning and return Starr’s Mill to like it was before COVID-19.

Caroline Hubbard, Editor-in-Chief

As Starr’s Mill High School opens a new chapter with the 2022-2023 school year, there are many changes being made. There are new, and a few old, school rules being put into effect, along with a change of pace being brought in with some new teachers. 

“Ultimately, everything we’re doing this year is about getting back to basics of good instruction, and good school management, and making sure that our students are successful, both in the class[room], and behaviorally,” Principal Allen Leonard said. 

Some of the policies that help get back to these basics of good instruction are the new 10/10 rule that says that students cannot go to the bathroom during the first or last 10 minutes of a class period. In addition, students must keep their phones put away during instructional time either in their bags or the pouches hanging in each classroom. 

“Instructional time is important, and keeping students engaged in instructional time is important,” Leonard said. ”There’s nothing that we ask students to do in our school that’s hard to meet.”

Despite the rigor of classes, the administrative hope for this year is that all of these new adaptations and changes come easily to students and improve the learning environment. 

“I’m really excited about hopefully getting away from some of the protocols that kept us administratively away from being in the classroom,” Leonard said. “My favorite day is the kind of day that I can spend watching teachers teach instead of sitting in the office answering emails.”

Another difference this year is the 11 new teachers who have joined the Panther family. This new group of teachers has a wide variety of experience, from fresh out of college to 17+ years.

The main goal of this year is to get back to a semi-normal year like before the pandemic.

Another change is the return of the attendance exemption. For anyone who never experienced Starr’s Mill prior to the pandemic, the attendance exemption allows students with less than 6 unexcused absences to exempt one exam as long as they pass the class. The most significant change with this policy is the difference between unexcused and excused absences in reference to the exemption. 

“This year needs to be about doing school right, doing the things that are necessary to be successful academically, socially, and behaviorally,” Leonard said. 

Any student needing more information on the new/old school rules can be found in the student handbook or on the school website.