March 2011 Column

As the weather begins to warm and spring is upon us, teachers at our schools begin seeing an increase in the amount of discipline issues. Part of this is due to an anticipation of the school year ending. The other part, I fear, is that we are becoming a more aggressive nation due to instant technological gratification now available in our society. 
It seems that if we don’t get an immediate response, we react in a negative manner.  Sometimes just waiting for a computer to boot up can cause us to tap our fingers and become frustrated. We live in a time when information can be quickly accessed through a cell phone, the internet and social networking.  While all these tools mark a progressive society, they also give people the chance to use thoughtless words they might reconsider in a face-to-face situation. Unfortunately, these sometimes hurtful messages can be sent to several people at once.
HMS needs your support in reducing aggressive behavior among our youth.  We try to provide a safe environment during the day but are unable to control situations that occur after school. To ensure the safety of all students, we are asking that parents be on the lookout for certain behaviors. Take note if your child appears sad, moody, teary or depressed when he or she comes home. Frequent complaints of headaches, stomach aches or other physical ailments could be a sign of social problems. Also look for trouble sleeping, frequent bad dreams, a loss of appetite, anxiety or low self-esteem.  

Parents should also be alert to conversations that center around circles of friends – or friends who are no longer a part of the circle.  Your child may be the one being isolated or part of a group that is isolating other students. Other signs of potential trouble include aggressive language – both during conversations as well as in e-mails, texts or phone messages. For that reason, check your student’s texts, internet postings, emails and visit with them about events that are taking place in their lives.  
If need be, communicate pertinent information to school personnel. A partnership between parents and the schools will help all parties take a more proactive approach to negative situations before they become a larger problem. Together, we can make school a great experience for every child.
On another front, HMS has made tremendous strides in updating our facilities to meet the make them conducive to learning.  We are continually trying to improve our campus atmosphere.  We recently completed construction on the Freshmen High School. I invite you to attend the April 14 ribbon cutting. The 4:15 p.m. ceremony will mark the official debut of a $30-million complex that should make all Hobbs residents proud.  Please take time on that day to meet some of the students who will make up the first class of ninth-graders to attend the school. You’ll also have an opportunity to talk to workers from McCarthy Construction, the company that broke ground in December 2009 and completed the building this month on time and on budget.
But most importantly, you’ll be able to tour the 114,000-square foot complex which has three main components: a state-of-the-art central kitchen/cafeteria, a  gymnasium which is two thirds the size of Tasker Arena and the school building itself. Please  sit at a desk in our classrooms, many of which feature large sliding whiteboards, overhead projectors and revolutionary technology. Listen to the outdoor Bose speakers in the atrium, an area for students to relax, study or conduct experiments. Stroll down wide hallways – they each feature a separate locker color scheme – and picture students during passing periods who now will be able to walk side by side rather than sideways.
Thanks to architect Frank Mackay and the Freshman High School teachers who spent hours of planning time with him, the new campus is a made-to-order building that fits exactly the needs of our students and teachers.
So mark your calendar for the ribbon cutting. And catch the excitement about a building that marks the first major advance in Hobbs educational construction in more than 50 years.

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