Principal notes the positives of a challenging year

Tentative start and start times for next year are announced


Megaphone file photo

Principal Mrs. Julie Barthel participated in a presser with the newspaper staff on April 23 during E period.

Ellie Moores, Reporter

As the end of the second semester approaches, Principal Mrs. Julie Barthel reflected on the school year and gave her insight regarding the beginning of the next school year. 

Barthel noted that, while not set in stone at this point, the plan for next year is for the school day to start at 8:45 a.m. and end at 3:15 p.m. with a five-day rotation. “That’s mainly based on brain research and sleep patterns of teenagers. We know it’s better and healthier for kids to start later, so we’re super glad we can stay with that,” Barthel said. The length of the school day will ensure that the school meets the daily instructional time as required by the Indiana Department of Education

Office hours will continue to take place before school, Barthel said, and there is good possibility that is when flex will be scheduled as well. 

In addition to scheduling information, Barthel spoke on the triumphs and tribulations of this school year, offering her perspective on what might be one of the school’s more trying years with both a global pandemic and the construction of the Innovation Center presenting their own challenges.

In regards to following Covid-19 protocols, Barthel said she is proud of the way teachers have adjusted to the classroom guidelines. During the summer, teachers were trained on proper safety protocols to keep the virus out of their classrooms. These preparations early on allowed teachers to begin the school year with a clear idea on what they needed to do to keep themselves and their students safe.

Along with guidance from the Marion County Health Department, the administration also worked closely with a doctor who serves as a member on the staff of the the State Health Commissioner, Dr. Kristina Box. “We are so lucky that we had a doctor who’s a parent here who’s actually on Dr. Box’s staff. When they did all the webinars and meetings with the governor she was right there. She was one of the main people that would help us,” Barthel said.  

Our level of instruction when we did have to go to eLearning was still really high.”

— Principal Mrs. Julie Barthel

The principal also noted how well the teachers transitioned to eLearning before Thanksgiving break. “Our level of instruction when we did have to go to eLearning was still really high. We still had a lot of resources in place for kids that needed extra support,” Barthel said.

But it is not just the teachers who have had to adjust. Students also had to get used to the many changes of this school year. Not only did the schedule change numerous times, but students were also faced with navigating the one-way hallways, eating lunch in their classrooms and overcoming not having flex and participating in other school traditions. “(The students) are rock stars. (They) did everything we asked,” Barthel said. 

As more people get vaccinated and Covid 19 cases decrease, Barthel said she is keeping her fingers crossed that next year can be a bit more normal. “My hope is to have more authentic opportunities for kids” Barthel said. Hands-on learning is an important part of (the school’s) mission, and hopefully next year, Covid 19 permitting, we can have even more of it,” Barthel said. 

At the start of the fall semester last August, this school was one of only three high schools fully in person in Indiana. But as schools began opening back up, Barthel and the principals of other high schools came together to navigate the remainder of the year. Barthel noted how what typically had been rival schools, including Bishop Chatard, Brebeuf Jesuit and Guerin Catholic, worked together to ensure both safety and instruction for their students. The principal mentioned how often administrators at these schools would frequently trade texts to stay up to date with their policies and procedures.