PHS, PJHS ready to begin school year

By Paula Cronic: Freedom Newspapers

Building on last years success and striving for better excellence, not just in academics but in athletics and activities alike is what Portales High School Principal Melvin Nusser says he hopes for the 2006-2007 school year.

“I think we had a great year last year, we just raised the bar,” Nusser said. “We’ve done that to ourselves by having great success.”
Nusser said PHS students showed continuing improvement in math and reading skills despite the fact that Portales schools failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). He added the students’ improvement has been made possible by having a committed and dedicated staff.

“The staff goes above and beyond the normal call of duty,” Nusser said.
PHS athletes have also had continued success, according to Nusser, who said both the basketball and volleyball teams have won state championships in recent years. He also mentioned the PHS band received a superior rating at their contest last year.

“I think the students will be ready to leave their own mark on this coming school year and their place in history,” Nusser said. “Honestly, the classes before them have excelled extremely well and we expect them to do the same and surpass them.”

This will be the second year in which the school will be allowing students to enroll in online courses, and the third year the school will offer the program Powerschool, which allows parents to check on their child’s progress.

The online classes are developed by PHS faculty and staff. The program has 107 students currently enrolled in at least one online course. Nusser said the courses allow the students to have a more flexible work schedule and also the chance to take extra courses.

The Powerschool program, Nusser said, is one way parents can stay involved with their children. He said parents can log on and check their student’s progress at school, their lunch balance and their attendance. They can also send an e-mail to a teacher directly or request a teacher automatically send them a progress report however often they would like.

According to Nusser, nearly 40 percent of PHS students are being checked on Powerschool by a parent or guardian.
Using technology as a way to increase the educational experience for students is something the Portales Junior High School is doing this academic school year as well.

PJHS Principal Steve Harris said this year will be the first time all seventh-grade students will receive their own personal laptop computers.

The students will be given the laptops to be used in class and will also be allowed to take them home, said Harris.

“The computers will actually travel with the students through 12th-grade so for all intents and purposes it’s theirs but during the summer the computers will stay here at the school,” Harris said.

Harris said he too, would like to see more parental involvement with his students.

“Even if we have a fully blown, fully involved PTA I would still want as much involvement as we can get because parents have good ideas,” Harris said.

He also said he hopes within the time given, that the faculty and staff of the PJHS will have a larger impact on students so they will be at the right level and ready to move on to the next grade.