In an attempt to learn more about public perceptions of Columbia High School, school officials have initiated an annual "school summit" meeting as a way to find ways to improve.
The meeting, held April 11 at the CHS library, brought a cross-section of 10 members of the community to meet with representatives of the school.
Included in the group were parents, representatives from the business community, the library, the local newspaper, parents, a local church, the police chief, and the mayor.
"We tried to cover all facets of community," explained Tim McGlothlin, principal of CHS. "It was a diverse and balanced group, and I think the meeting was very valuable. This was the first time, but it will be an annual thing. We invited 15 this year, and 10 attended."
McGlothlin added that next year the school plans to invite a larger group.
As part of the three and a half hour meeting, the group listened to several presentations ranging from general details of the school's goals to an overview of the school's curriculum choices. Another topic explored how the school strives to provide students with the information they need to make healthy choices, for example, in selecting food. After the presentation, the group toured the school, filled out a survey, and was treated to lunch.
McGlothlin pointed to big victories in recent school levy elections as an indication that area residents back the school.
"We have tremendous support from the community and that is very much appreciated," he said. "We have a friendly school and we want to work on maintaining that image."
Jennifer Hull, one of those in attendance, said she was a bit surprised by how the event was arranged.
"I didn't realize it was mainly going to be a presentation. I thought it would be more of a discussion," Hull said. "But it was interesting, and kudos for the school for trying to get out what they're doing in the community."
Some of the survey comments included:
"Since I've lived in WS I repeatedly have heard that the grade school is excellent, the middle school is OK, and the high school is not good. Today showed me many very good classes and teachers."
"When my child was here I didn't feel like he was considered a valuable individual and I feel we were not given help when it could have been available. My daughter was quite unhappy here. Is now a college graduate after leaving here in her second year."
"Before today I assumed the school was merely adequate. I've learned you have quite a bit to offer. I'm pleased with the more stringent graduation requirements at CHS; higher standards than the state requires."
McGlothlin said there was a simple reason behind the summit.
"I think we're good, but we just want to get better," he said. "What I determined from the survey is there are a couple areas we need to work on. I know the lockers are in need of repairs, for example. But generally the comments were very favorable."