RFHS working to expand minds at expanded building
Students and staff at Roaring Fork High School say they are excited about the new building with expanded space, but expanding student thinking is the focus for the upcoming school year.”We want students to stretch their understanding and knowledge of international issues,” RFHS Assistant Principal Barbara Mason said.”We must help the students understand that the world is interconnected,” Principal Dale Parker said. “Students should know how the world works economically, politically, socially, spiritually and environmentally.” This expanded educational approach is part of a new international school focus at Carbondale’s high school that will “prepare students for the world in which they will live rather than the world of yesterday,” Parker said. The learning process will extend beyond the classes offered in multiple foreign languages, the overseas summer trips and the World Activist Club. “The international school focus means that we want to prepare our graduates for a world in which the ability to think critically and to communicate across cultures is of paramount importance,” Mason said. “It’s a way of teaching that encourages kids to be reflective thinkers, to overcome intolerance, prejudice and cultural misunderstandings.”The global direction will extend through all subjects. A number of new classrooms are designed as double rooms with retractable walls to increase opportunities for interdisciplinary learning, such as a language arts class working together with a social studies class, Mason said.Student Council co-president Leslie French, a senior at RFHS, agreed that “understanding the world is a good educational experience for everyone in the school,” and she hopes “the new school inspires the year.”The Student Council is helping to expand student thinking by working to integrate the two cultures at the ethnically mixed school. French said plans include hosting student mixers to learn about different backgrounds and inviting Latino parents to teach Anglo students about Latino traditions, everything from dancing to tamales. Mason said she is expecting the incoming freshman class to bring new energy and fresh ideas to the modern, colorful building. Early enrollment figures show overall RFHS student enrollment is up slightly from last school year. “We have a really great group of freshmen who are enthusiastic, diverse and academically strong,” Mason said.Positive energy also comes from the school’s 30 staff members and teachers, almost 85 percent of which are returning RFHS employees or have experience working in the district in some capacity, Mason said. Staff members are involved in various committees to support student learning and a strong school environment, such as results teams, a school climate committee and a quality learning team.Some of the specific school improvement strategies include peer observations, in which teachers critique teachers, and an academic excellence group that asks all teachers to submit curriculum maps. Results teams, a continuing district initiative, are designed to improve student achievement by looking at specific student work.Parents are supporting the school through such avenues as the building accountability committee and the booster club. Staff and students at RFHS invite the community to find out more about the high school’s learning opportunities. A community open house and building dedication will start at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4. For more information, call 384-5757.Suzie Romig is RFSD public information officer.
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