Many positives, but vaping remains major concern

Many positives, but vaping remains major concern
Posted on 10/14/2019
Greetings! Hope you and your child(ren) got off to a wonderful start of the school year! How time flies as we are quickly approaching the end of the 1st Marking Period and Halloween. Wanted to thank those of you who shared stories and personal perspectives about how the school year started. I received a few comments on transportation/bussing, late changes to staffing - adding an additional teacher to two elementary schools, and some wonderful stories about how the new school year started for your student(s)! Thank you! Each story was instructive and will help us get better.

It's mid-October and I have seen and heard so many awesome stories from the classroom, our playing fields, and other school activities! Students have received honors as National Merit Semifinalist, Commended Status, Digital Art teacher Amy Migliore was recognized as the Pennyslvania Art Teacher of the Year, and Assistant Superintendent Nancianne Edwards received the Supervisor of the Year Award by the PA Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development. What goes on after school by our teachers and coaches in teaching and role modeling for their players the importance of citizenship and community service is also truly inspiring.

Student enrollment: The end of September Enrollment Report usually captures the best snapshot of what our enrollment numbers actually are - student withdrawals are accounted for by then. Our enrollment decreased by a net 108 students from the end of September last year to this year, with 107 students of the decline at the elementary level.

Mental Health and Wellness is our major theme for this year’s Superintendent Goals for 2019-20. Quakertown provides a wide variety of “Pupil Services” to students and their parents, K to 12. This year, we are expanding our community forums on various topics of importance to many of you. We have three presentations this week - one this evening. To improve our own knowledge of best practices, my district leadership team is participating in a professional development consortium with the University of Pennsylvania. At the building level, our middle school teachers are participating together is a course on Trauma Informed Care, after they identified meeting the needs of challenging students as a significant area of need.

Vaping: A day does not go by without at least one report in the media about how harmful vaping is, and about its use by teenagers. So far this school year, the students caught vaping at the middle school is down significantly, but this is not so at the high school. An ambulance was called to the high school this past Friday for a student who became unconscious immediately after vaping in a bathroom stall with other students. The students were all sharing someone else’s vaping device that was laced with THC and/or another unknown substance. Earlier in the week, we had conducted a dog search at the high school. They found several vaping devices, a few laced with THC. My purpose of having law enforcement bring K9 into our buildings is to keep drugs off-campus and keep our students safe at school. Many students complain about not being able to use the bathroom because of significant vaping activity. The high school has also greatly increased adult presence in and around the bathrooms this year. Please continue to counsel your children about the risks of vaping - many previously healthy young people have developed life-threatening lung diseases, in addition to nicotine addiction.

Last Wednesday, I had the distinct privilege to meet and listen to two US Congressional Medal of Honor award recipients at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. The topic was ‘Lessons in Leadership.’ The MOH awardees were as different in mission, years of preparation, and purpose as they could be. One was a Navy SEAL with years of preparation and training - a master of his craft, while the other was an Army Forward Observer retired after only 15 months on active duty service after being critically wounded. What was common to both was their courage, honor, loyalty, and commitment to selfless service. In my own reflection on the wisdom they shared, I reflected on our collective talents - the “skill and will” of our Quakertown Community School District team of teachers, support staff and administrators, and their ‘will’ to serve our students. What makes Quakertown so special is that from the long-term substitute to the 40-year veteran, so many give us their all as servant leaders in their own right each and every day. Yes, we are blessed!

Thanks for reading!

Bill Harner
Superintendent

Email: wharner@qcsd.org
Twitter: @billharner
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