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Stephenson Stresses Communication, Consistency, and Culture 

Catherine Weng and Drew Meyerson

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The ’17-’18 school year will see the return of Principal Stephenson to Freedom in his third year running the high school. Stephenson briefly reflected on the success seen by his administration over the previous two years and what he expects in the near future. 

“Since I’ve been here, we’ve increased achievement in almost every area academically,” commented Stephenson. “We’ve increased graduation rates tremendously. We went from 77% to 83%, and we expect our current senior class to be about 85-86%, which is positive… For the class of 2020, the district has a goal of 90%. There’s no reason we can’t get there.” 

At the onset of the ’16-’17 school year, Stephenson stated that he hoped to improve celebration of academic achievements among students. 

Reflecting on last year’s successes, Stephenson explained, “It’s one of those things where we are looking at students individually. That’s been showcased pretty well through journalism, and also on the morning show.” 

Stephenson hopes to improve awareness of the Freedom community through the use of social media. 

“As far as showcasing more of that, I would like to get more kids following us on social media, because we do put a lot of information out that way,” explained Stephenson. “But there are better ways of getting that out in the community. I’m trying to put together a group of teachers that will be a marketing team for our school.” 

He also stressed the importance of communication with parents. 

“One of my personal goals is improving communication, not just with faculty members and teachers, but with parents. We use Parent Link as a primary source for communication but some of our parents aren’t subscribed,” stated Stephenson. “I would love to try to get more community involvement in this school – SAC, our school advisory council, [and] PTA [Parent Teacher Association.] There’s a lot of opportunities to get more community involvement.” 

One factor that Stephenson feels has largely determined his success in past years is consistency. It’s no secret that before him, Freedom students experienced a revolving door of principals. 

“We’re finally getting teachers, through data and communication, getting everyone going in the same direction,” said Stephenson. “The consistency in administration will help that. When I came in, I was the fourth principal in five years. Everyone who came before me had their own direction and they were gone. Now going into year three, I’m really trying to continue within that direction.” 

In terms of school culture, Stephenson is pleased with the progress his administration has made up to this point. 

“We’ve done a really great job of changing culture here. The environment seems a lot calmer starting this school year. Have fun, get involved, but we don’t have any tolerance for students that are here to be disruptive and trying to keep everybody else from learning.” 

Stephenson also touched on what students can expect in terms of pep rallies and school spirit. 

“We can only do so many pep rallies a year, because it’s starting to infringe on instructional time,” explained Stephenson. “But student life is also an important part of high school. That’s why we try to have three to four pep rallies a year.” 

He praised student etiquette at the events in previous years. 

“Our student behavior has been fantastic this last year, so there’s no reason we can’t continue to have more, as long as everyone’s participating and having fun,” stated Stephenson 

Stephenson also hinted at the future of the Student Government Association. 

“We have a new SGA sponsor, so I don’t know what direction that’s going to go in. I would expect more involvement with the pep rallies,” added Stephenson. “We’re also looking at doing other media sources for SGA. They want to do an Instagram account, but we’re waiting on final approval on that one.” 

Stephenson expressed what he hopes to see from students moving forward. 

“I just want everyone to get involved, come to school, and take care of business.” 

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Stephenson Stresses Communication, Consistency, and Culture