Parking spaces have been updated, the old media center has been completely transformed, and the Comets’ south gym lobby has been overhauled at Steele High School over the summer.
Principal Michael May said the updates are a game-changer for Amherst teens.
“I believe it’s going to be a positive culture shift for everybody. People walking into both ends of the building, not even seeing it completed, have been gleaming,” he said of the renovations.
Teachers will be expected to use digital technology much more this year to reach their students. The Steele media center — now dubbed the “creative learning center” — will be a hub in that effort, revamped for intensive tablet use, presentation-making, and video projects.
May says he believes test stress will be much lower this year with the controversial PARCCs more than a year gone and one year of AIR testing completed. Now teachers know what to expect on this year’s standardized state exams.
There will be expanded opportunities for kids both inside and outside the classroom in 2016-2017.
May is excited for the return of the Comets varsity ice hockey team this winter. He also boasts 12 Comet College Campus courses that high-performing teens can take at Steele for up to 39 college credits.
Right now those advanced classes are only for upperclassmen but May hopes to offer more to freshmen and sophomores in the future. The benefit, he said, is thousands of dollars in tuition savings for parents when the credits transfer to cover college general ed requirements.
Also gaining steam this fall is the new Environmental Club formed in the spring by science teacher Angie DeLeon. May said in addition to basic education, one of the club’s goals is to implement a recycling effort at the high school.
Fostering school spirit will continue to be a priority for May, now entering his fourth year as principal. “Who you are begins with what you do,” he said.
Another talking point with teens will be social media use, responsibility, and dangers — especially for freshmen. May said assistant principal Bill Fishleigh spent a lot of time last year combating online bullying.
Fishleigh has also been put in charge of updating the school’s handbook for parents and students. An electronic version will be emailed and will highlight changes, which mainly clarifying old or vague language. For example, May said the dress code has been streamlined from 20 bullet points to nine.
New student orientation will be held at Steele from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Aug. 11. An open house will run from 5-6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 24.
Other important dates to mark on the calendar include Pink Week from Sept. 12-18 to address breast cancer dangers; Spirit Week from Sept. 26-30; and homecoming Sept. 30 as the Comets varsity football team hosts Avon Lake. A homecoming parade will start at 5 p.m. from Nord Middle School with crowning of royalty preceding the 7 p.m. kickoff.
Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times A lone worker wires new TV screens Monday in the newly-renovated south lobby at Steele High School, where a giant Comets A dominates the entranceway.