By Grayson Zoller
If some people are to be believed, every year the freshman classes get consecutively worse. So why does it seem like the school is remaining the same? Maybe it’s because it has remained the same, and the only thing changing is people’s perception.
The idea that the younger generation is ruining society is a concept that has been around for thousands of years. Everyone from Aristotle in the 300 B.C.s (“Young people have exalted notions, because they have not yet been humbled by life or learned its necessary limitations…”) to newspaper writers in the 1920s (“…an attitude on the part of young folk which is best described as grossly thoughtless, rude, and utterly selfish.”) has complained about how young people are lawless, amoral and generally foolish.
Delta High School has not been exempted from this complaining about the newest students, either. It’s not uncommon to hear cries that this year’s freshman class is the worst class to ever grace the floors of the school. But according to assistant principal Mr. Ross Elwood, this simply isn’t true.
“I don’t think it’s getting worse,” he said. “It usually is an adjustment period beginning in the first few weeks of school, maybe the first few months of school. But things settle down once kids learn our expectations and the teacher’s expectations, and they tend to meet those expectations pretty much.”
Elwood went on to say that students were used to the way things were done at the middle school, and that there’s an adjustment period when going to the high school.
“They’re used to the way things are done at the middle school, not that that’s good or bad, but they come here and we’re doing things a little differently,” he said.
He also noted that classifying an entire class as “awful” just isn’t something he would do, because there are only students who need more help and correction.
Longtime Delta teacher Mrs. Julie Blakely taught freshmen for around 10 years, and she heard almost every year that the current class was the worst one. In her opinion, there were some freshman classes that were worse than others, but she said there was no trend of classes worsening. She remembers a time when two freshmen boys fought in her classroom, and another time when a boy jumped off a balcony for a $5 bet.
But Blakely believes there’s a different source of this perception that the freshmen are worsening: teachers.
“[Teachers] get older, and if you have upperclassmen, they don’t do such squirrely things like freshmen do,” she said. “So, they see freshmen as always being immature, acting up in class, things like that.”
A good way to see how student behavior has changed would be to look at the number of referrals handed out each year. Thanks to assistant principal Ms. Joey Gossett, Eagle’s Eye has this information to share with you.
While the percentage of referrals that are attributed to freshmen has seemed to trend upwards, the number of overall referrals has gone down, including for the freshmen. The school is giving out more than 500 fewer referrals than they were in the early 2010s.
This sharp decline is attributed mostly to culture by assistant principal Ms. Gossett. When she started as an administrator at the high school, there was a system implemented called PBIS.
PBIS stands for “Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports,” and the high school used it from 2013 to 2016.
Gossett said that PBIS helped establish a culture that focused on positive reinforcement. Signs would be put up encouraging students to do things like wash their hands, throw trash away, and generally behave.
Now, PBIS has done its job of establishing the culture and is no longer used. “We had what we wanted… the students knew how to behave, and we had very few discipline referrals,” Gossett said.
Obviously, keeping students disciplined is not a task that ends. There’s always a new group of students who are new to high school, and they’ll need time to get on track. But have the students been getting worse overall?
According to the people in charge of freshman discipline, absolutely not.