End of day intervention time may be optional for eligible PCHS students

GUILFORD — Currently Piscataquis Community High School students end their day with a 45-minute block of Response to Intervention time on Tuesdays through Thursdays. During this session teachers can virtually tag students through PowerSchool to come into their classrooms to make up work and tests and RTI can also be used by pupils seeking extra help, for various clubs to meet, and by those who would like to relax in the gym or cafeteria.

Some PCHS students feel that the time is not the most productive for those without specific obligations and students in good academic standing should be able to sign out and depart from campus. The student council has brought this possibility to administrators, including Superintendent Kelly MacFadyen. She said no decision has been made but she wanted the school board to learn more during a meeting held Tuesday evening, Oct. 10 in the Piscataquis Community Elementary School cafeteria.

“First off I am so proud to say we have that kind of leadership in our high school,” MacFadyen said about the student council members’ willingness to bring concerns forward and represent their peers. She said she still has some concerns about students leaving early that will need to be addressed. The request being made is different from senior privilege which enables eligible 12th-graders to depart before the final bell.

Junior Class President Timothy MacNeil said under a proposal draft students — grades 10-12 were mentioned but the early leaving privilege would likely at least start with juniors and seniors — could miss RTI time if they are not tagged, are not on the academic ineligible list, and have written parent/guardian permission which specifies how they can leave campus.

Junior Class Treasurer Khole Kimball said during last year’s RTI block there was a lot of student misbehavior because work was finished and they had very little to do. She said some of her peers have mentioned not wanting to go to the gym or cafeteria, preferring to leave and this would allow the teachers to focus on the students who are still there.

Sophomore Class President Ava Goulette said the proposal includes consequences for violations including an office detention for the first offense, then an in-school suspension, followed by having the ability to leave early revoked for the remainder of the semester.

“This is a reward for those who succeed and get it done on time,” MacNeil said. “It also calls out students who aren’t done on time.”

PCHS Principal John Keane said the state wanted schools to look at RTI and he said the time has been effective, with fewer classes being failed compared to a few years prior. “We are not reducing our academic time at all,” he said about the proposal from the student council.

MacFadyen said next week she plans to meet with the student council representatives again to work on a plan. This could be tested starting in January for grades 11-12, and she will let the school board know how it goes.

In other business, the school board approved the cooperative agreement with the Tri-County Technical Center in Dexter for 2023-24.

MacFadyen said there are no changes from the year before, and TCTC has a total enrollment of about 220 students from six sending districts.

PCES Principal Anita Wright said students have been busy with outdoor-based learning. 

She said the Outing Club recently hiked a 3-mile loop trail on Mt. Kineo after taking a ferry across Moosehead Lake to Rockwood. The older elementary students will soon start a geocaching unit.

Next month Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District Educational Coordinator Kacey Weber will present in grade 5-6 science classrooms about “The Trout in the Classroom Program” as the students will learn about the watershed and water quality. 

The classrooms will also be the site of tanks as starting in January trout will be raised from eggs and then released in the spring.

Wright said art teacher Wendy Lorrigan has incorporated the outdoors via easels that allows students to create while being outside.

Keane reported the annual Veterans Day ceremony is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9.

MacFadyen said Finance Director Marion Huntley will be retiring after Dec. 8. Interviews are now taking place to find a successor and MacFadyen hopes to have a candidate to bring to the school board by next month’s meeting.

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