Student Journalism at San Rafael High School

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SRHS Administration Introduces New Policies that Challenge Students and Please Teachers

RTI? e-Hallpass? Bulldog-ready? There’s a lot to remember.

Administrators welcomed students back to San Rafael High School for the 2023-24 school year with a long list of new policies and technologies that have perplexed students and pleased most teachers. 

The Bulldog-Ready Policy includes four main principles: Being on time, having something to write on, something to write with, and bringing a charged Chromebook to class. If your phone is out during class, it will now be placed in a pouch for the remainder of the school day. Students and teachers have a new tardiness policy and a program called e-Hallpass for managing it, along with trips to the bathroom during class time. Advisory gets managed using RTI Scheduler, and there’s a new process for this as well.

These amount to a lot of school-wide system changes. The sudden demands for change have been complicating school life for many at SRHS. Teachers and administrators wanted students to have a fresh start to school, coming in prepared to learn. Staff largely believe that setting these expectations for students can help create a better learning environment for all. Students, on the other hand, are frustrated and still finding new ways to adhere to the new policies.  

Joe Dominguez, principal of San Rafael High School for two years, wanted students to have new expectations for school, noticing that teachers would set their own classroom rules that students did not always follow. “Elimination of temptations is a big thing,” said Dominguez. “The high-achieving go-getter students don’t have as much of an issue adapting to the new policies as the middle- and low-achieving students who struggle with consistency and expectations.”

Vice Principal Casey Shannon thought students should be more prepared with a set list of necessities needed to be successful in class, like paper, pencils, a charged Chromebook, and more. That way, teachers would be able to get through a day of teaching knowing that students were 100% prepared, engaged, and ready to learn. He also wanted students to set the expectation of practicing getting ready for the day, just like a regular adult would in an everyday life situation. “If I showed up to work without my chromebook, my cell phone, and my charger and said, well, I’m here, it would be like, how am I going to complete my task and do my job?” said Shannon.

SRHS teachers who stand by the policies say these new rules are a first, and having the administration’s support in applying them is something that the school has never seen. 

“To have the administration supporting teachers and encouraging students to have the best academic practices through school-wide policies is new for us,” said Gwen Pikkarien, a teacher here at SR for 18 years.

Because some teachers had already installed rules that aligned closely with the new policies, students were already exposed to them and more easily adapted. Still, the new technology put in place does come as a challenge to many students on campus.

Some students have had to change lifestyle habits and break old patterns to be fully ready for the school day. “I’ve had to run to classes sometimes and even came to school with a dead Chromebook, but I had a charger with me, and my teacher still wouldn’t let me use it. So I had to leave class, which felt more disruptive than actually charging my laptop,” said student Belen Coronado.

With so many new forms of technology put in place over the years, SRHS has changed from being paper-based to computer-based. Students and even teachers struggle with using the new apps. Teachers have sided with the thought that it’s not too bad; most teachers like how they are able to keep an eye on students in a precise way compared to years ago. Ms. Kury, a new teacher here at SRHS, likes that she is able to know where her students are, knowing that their safety is a big thing for her. Kury said, “The e-Hall Pass is tricky, but I also see the value in knowing where everyone is if there is an emergency on campus, and we need to know that everyone is safe.”

“It’s a little bit too much; it’s very different from my old school; a lot more security in a complicated way,” said first-year student Karuna Ahearn, who is finding it difficult to navigate through the technologies put in place in classrooms.

Some students find it hard to add the policies to everyday life, and others find it improves their academics. Senior Naomi Jimenez, ASB president, says, “The new rules have complicated my life. It’s very impactful, and as seniors, we know how to keep our phones away. We know that we should be paying attention in class, and having these extra rules and policies taken away from our learning time is impactful.”

Junior Eduardo Reyes doesn’t feel personally affected. “They annoy me slightly,” said Reyes. Senior Cassidy Kaplan likes the new policies and understands why we need to cut down on these issues here on campus. “Educationally great and keeps me less distracted,” said Kaplan.

Some of the policies will take time to get used to, especially if you’re a student who finds it hard to come to school on time or forgets to bring your Chromebook daily. According to teachers and administrators, the new policies have been shown to be effective in classrooms as well as student academics. “Qualitatively, yes, teachers are saying they feel like their students are more engaged and have a better time paying attention in class. Teachers are saying their students are fully prepared. Quantitatively, the data shows that there are fewer students tardy every day, and students are actually realizing the importance of their academics,” said Principal Dominguez.

SRHS staff like having this new form of structure, and to them, these policies give them what they need to have a smooth-running class.

Dominguez sees an improvement and hopes to keep it going. He anticipates hardships but hopes to improve the system that SRHS uses going forward. “Policies like these new ones aren’t easy from the get-go and can come as a challenge to many,” says Dominguez. 

“The new policies are here to stay due to their positive impact on student engagement in the classroom,”Dominguez says. He also plans to send out a survey at the end of the year to students and parents about the new policies put in place.


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  • K

    KillianOct 26, 2023 at 12:17 am

    Interesting read, well reported and well written.

    I was a student five years ago and I sympathize with the students, but the policies seem straightforward and well thought through.

    I’m interested to know how the feedback process evolves since it’s very common for feedback to be lost in all the other things going on and I hope the administration keeps their focus on these policies and iterates them effectively for both students and teachers!

  • N

    NaomiOct 17, 2023 at 7:20 pm

    Great article! Valid points from both sides. Maybe the policy will be up for debate next school year?

  • C

    Clive BakerOct 17, 2023 at 3:37 pm

    I think that the “Bulldog Ready” is the most counterintuitive change in my eyes. It makes far more sense for teachers to provide materials or marking you tardy if you show up late, than disrupting the class, going to a tardy station, and then missing instructions that you wouldn’t have to miss if you hadn’t left the class.