Tips for bringing phones and iPods to school

Principal’s Page
By Jeff Reaburn

By now, parents should have received Interim Reports, which were mailed out last Thursday. While this is not an official report card, it should give parents an indication of how their sons or daughters are doing so far this year. As indicated on the newsletter that accompanied the Interim Report, the main purpose of the report is to give parents a “snapshot” of student progress in preparation for the first Parent-Teacher Interview night, which is this Thursday, October 25. Parents are asked to have their children arrange interview times with any teachers they wish to see. The interviews will take place in the cafeteria and small gym from 3:30 to 5 p.m. and 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The first official report card of the year, the Semester One Mid-Term Report, will be distributed on Friday, November 16.

Re: personal electronics
Many students bring MP3 players, digital cameras, PSPs, and cell phones to school every day, which is fine as long as these items are used appropriately and are looked after by the students. Our policies and expectations are outlined in the red planners that all students received in the first week of school.
Students are permitted to have cell phones at school as long as they are not using them during class time or in assemblies. We expect students to leave them in their lockers or turn them off when they come to class. Students who are caught using cell phones during class time or in assemblies, especially to send text messages, can expect to have them confiscated for the remainder of the day. For a first offence, generally the phone will be kept until the end of the day at which point the student will have it returned on the understanding that the rules will be followed. Should there be subsequent infractions, the phone may be kept until a parent can come to the school to retrieve it. Should the misuse continue, more serious consequences could include a suspension from school.
A similar policy exists for MP3 players, with the exception that some teachers permit students to listen to music while doing class work, as long as it is not interfering with the work of other students or distracting students from the work at hand. Each teacher is free to choose whether or not to allow MP3 players in the classroom as it has been reported that some students are more focused on their work while listening to music.
Students generally have accepted this policy, but a bigger issue has emerged – students are increasingly reporting to us that their cell phones, MP3 players, PSPs, or digital cameras have gone missing. With the tremendous number of these devices in the hands of students, it is not possible for us to ensure that all of them are looked after, especially if students have left them in classrooms or in the cafeteria. Some have had them taken from the phys. ed. change rooms or from their lockers and some have gone missing after being loaned to another student. There is little that we can do if one of them goes missing other than check with students who may have seen someone pick the item up. Most of these devices are small and easily concealed, making it almost impossible for us to catch someone who has taken one unless a witness comes forward. And if we find someone with a device that matches the description of the lost or stolen item, it is still a challenge to verify that it is the missing one and not simply an identical one, especially if the songs, games, or personal information have been removed. If we know the serial number or if the item has been engraved, it is much easier to get the item returned to its rightful owner.
I am not suggesting that we don’t respond to the loss of these items. In fact, we spend a considerable amount of time trying to find such items when they go missing, and sometimes we are able to get them safely returned to the rightful owners, but as the items get smaller and smaller and more and more prevalent, our chances of success are diminishing.

Tips for students:
• Don’t bring personal electronic items to school unless there is a good reason to do so.
• If you bring them, mark or engrave them so they are easy to identify.
• Don’t loan your devices to anyone, no matter how much you trust the person.
• Keep devices in your locker, as long as no one knows your combination. Rarely are lockers broken into: most often someone else knows the student’s combination and the combination has been shared with others without the owner’s consent. Don’t share your combination and make sure no one is watching when you open your lock.
• Don’t take personal electronics, money, jewelry, etc. into the phys. ed. change rooms. Leave in your locker or with your phys. ed. teacher to be locked in an office. Leaving the item inside a shoe or in a book bag will not ensure that it is there when the owner returns. Students are cautioned every year not to leave money or valuables in the change rooms, but they do not always heed this advice.

We know that these items are important to the students and that they want to have them with them at all times. We have accepted this fact, but we would encourage them to take care to make sure that the devices are looked after properly and used appropriately. Whatever parents can do to reinforce this message would be greatly appreciated.