GISH's Future Discussed At Public Meetings

GISH Vision Meeting 2016

2,577 - That's the number of students enrolled in one way or another at the area's largest high school.

Grand Island Senior High alone holds 2,426 of them, with others attending programs like the Success Academy.

But, it's future students that may be impacted by discussions going on this week.

Boston-based District Management Council is collecting feedback from the public, students and people from specific business and social backgrounds that the district has invited to private meetings.

There's been a theme as Grand Island Public Schools asks the community to weigh in on the future of its high school.

"What is one word that would describe what you want for your students when they graduate, and overwhelmingly again it was we want our students to be prepared," said GIPS Superintendent Dr. Tawana Grover.

But, recent graduates said at Tuesday night’s public meeting that they weren't prepared when it came to college study skills, getting an apartment or filing taxes.

Parent Daysi Fuentes was there too. She agrees the school could do more to prepare students and she wants more help in pointing them towards a career, but she says her son - a 2015 graduate - benefited from the district's help.

"They was really, really, really great with him, helping him fill out applications, how to do it, different ways, you don't get stuck just filling out one application for the scholarships, you can try for this you can try different options so that's great," said Fuentes.

"We've had the opportunity to learn that yes, the academics are important, understand that students need to have that high level of education, but it needs to connect to a career. They need to have an understanding of how to function as a member of society, as a contributing citizen," said Grover.

Fuentes would also like to see more time to meet with staff outside parent teacher conferences twice a year.

"Meet more often with the counselors because I believe in getting more information about how a student is doing," she said.

Those counselors were also a concern for recent graduates Tuesday.

They said not all students are hearing about the same opportunities and those that aren't high or low functioning are slipping through the cracks.

"Those are things that we're currently doing and I think what we've heard echoed over and over is that we want more of it," said Grover.

Dr. Grover said when she started the job this year, she was constantly asked about a second high school. She said that hasn’t been the case with these meetings.

"We talk more about program offerings, allowing students to have opportunities to go into the work force and just to simply be prepared," said Grover. “Our students will have the best outcomes because we took the opportunity to collaborate.”

Boston-based District Management Council will create a vision with all this information, get more feedback on it in November and December, then talk steps to make it a reality next year.

At the heart of this process is the High School Vision Committee. It’s made up of about 30 people, mostly local education and business leaders. They’ll be a major part of bringing together a plan for the high school.

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