O'Fallon Progress

Our differences challenge us but are what make us stronger together

O’Fallon Township High School Superintendent Darcy Benway
O’Fallon Township High School Superintendent Darcy Benway

Happy New Year from OTHS. We are looking forward to a great 2017 and are excited to get the second semester of the school year underway.

As the new year begins, I wanted to take a few moments to share with you some important information regarding OTHS policies, philosophies and expectations. Providing the highest quality of education in a safe and nurturing environment is our top most priority at OTHS. Each and every one of us has a respective role in realizing that priority, as it truly “takes a village to raise a child.” We must all work together to guide our young people in positive directions that will develop their skills, motivation and passions for a lifetime of success and contribution.

Recent months of controversy have generated great debate, discussion and even divide among many people in our country. Although OTHS has not experienced a culture of division among our student body, national events such as these provide us with an opportunity to reflect on our efforts to maintain the great educational learning environment that we have at OTHS. We must remember that it is our differences that challenge us as a society, and eventually bring us together as a stronger whole. Differences in opinion, ideas, beliefs and values are expected in a diverse community. We are all individuals with unique experiences and circumstances. It is the manner in which we discuss and address our differences that must be the important point of focus for students.

At OTHS, we welcome open dialogue on current events and issues facing our school, community and country. Students should feel safe in expressing thoughts on politics, social issues and current events. We make every effort to teach students how to positively discuss controversial topics in respectful and responsible etiquettes. Yes, OTHS has experienced isolated incidents where our students have made poor decisions as they journey toward responsible adulthood. It is important to clarify that an “incident” is not indicative of the overall culture at OTHS. Each and every day the majority of our students pursue their education and engage in positive behaviors in a manner that should make our community feel very proud.

It is reasonable to expect that differences of opinion will continue to exist, and students will have strong passions on one side of an issue or another. It will never be reasonable or acceptable for students to intimidate, chastise, criticize or “put down” other students for their beliefs, opinions or for who they are as individuals. All students should be valued and respected, even when expressing differing views. OTHS will not tolerate behaviors that diminish a student’s self-esteem or behaviors that are intended to be hurtful to another student. The administration will address any inappropriate behaviors swiftly and affirmatively to maintain the excellent culture of education and acceptance of others that we experience every day in our classrooms and hallways. It is understandable that we as human beings will not “like” every other person we encounter. However, at OTHS the expectation is that we will be respectful of others, and we will support each other as part of the greater OTHS Panther Family. Thank you for supporting our efforts and for encouraging your students to continue their efforts of respecting the uniqueness observed in others. OTHS is a great place because of the character of our students, families, faculty, staff and community. Go Panthers!

Some other important items to note

1. It is the time of year when weather can impact the district’s ability to conduct school or to hold events. Please make sure your contact information is current with the school so that you will receive important alerts and notifications. Also, please review the “Winter Weather Frequently Asked Questions” information found on the OTHS website under District News.

2. Please check out the new School Messenger Info Center app available for iOS and Android devices. This app links to OTHS’s alert system that provides parents with information regarding emergencies, attendance or other general information.

3. Please consider following the District Twitter and Facebook sites which can be found @OTHSDistrict203.

4. If you have time, please join OTHS Board Members, the superintendent, and other administrations in our Conversations Over Coffee forums. It is a wonderful opportunity to have informal discussions on education at OTHS. The next Conversations Over Coffee event is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017.

5. Jan. 25 is a special testing date at OTHS. Seniors will not attend school. Freshmen will have a shortened class schedule and will be released at 11:15 a.m. Sophomores and juniors will be taking a practice college entrance exam and will be released at 11:45 a.m.

6. Reminder that the school calendar was amended last semester. Feb. 21 is a day of student attendance. Please check the district website for complete calendar information.

I wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year. Thank you for your support of OTHS and for your support of the wonderful young people we serve.

  Comments