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James A. Taylor High School adopts mascot

North Mason School Board members met the Sasquatch on Jan. 22.

James A. Taylor High School's new mascot made its debut at the monthly board meeting.

"I think it looks strong right before it gets scary," District 2 Director Leanna Krotzer said.

The logo features a stern bigfoot face popping out of evergreen trees and holding "JTHS" with its claws.

Superintendent Dana Rosenbach said staff used artificial intelligence to design the logo so that it's "totally original" and students approved it.

"I think the kids were really excited. Ever since we named the school James Taylor, which has been eight years, they've tried really hard to come up with a mascot ... At one time they were just going to have everything represented by a compass," Rosenbach said.

The board saw several versions of the mascot, including a sasquatch face with a graduation cap, just the face and just the eyes. Rosenbach said students could use different parts of the sasquatch to fit their design needs.

"It's pretty cool," she said.

The board also heard short presentations on technology replacement, attendance and results of a family and staff survey.

Director of Technology Clint Forsythe told the board there is always "constant pressure to do more with less."

Forsythe said ideally the district will replace laptops yearly. High priority items that must be replaced are network switches, with nine at the end of their lifecycle support, six within the next two years and 52 by October 2027.

The projects will need $440,000 in additional yearly funding for 2024 and $914,000 for 2025, he said.

Director of Systems & Supports Chris Turner gave an update on attendance goals the district set at the beginning of the year for 100% of students to attend at least 85% of the time.

"That's a decent mark. We're going to work it higher," he said.

Turner presented a graph that showed attendance starting out above the goal in September through November but falling to 81.5% in December. He said those numbers should "spike back up in January" now that holidays are over.

The district now calls an absent student's home twice a day, at 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. to make contact with a parent. If a student continues to miss classes, the district sends a letter home that requests a meeting with parents. The last step is filing a petition with juvenile court to compel the child to attend school.

"I anticipate we're going to easily make our goal and we'll be able to set it even higher next year," Turner said.

Director of Inclusive Education Kyle Ehlis talked about surveys that were performed to help the district focus its strategic plan. Two similar surveys were sent out, one to families and one to staff, about "school culture and climate," Ehlis said.

"We got some really good data," he said.

Discipline and bullying were two categories that concerned families and staff.

Ehlis said the district has already started working on updating bullying and discipline procedures. When they get a harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) report, there will be "clear procedures" to follow, he said.

The surveys will be sent out again at the end of the school year.

"I'm curious about discipline being an area of growth for both staff and families, like what about discipline were they really struggling with?" District 5 Director Arla Shepherd Bull asked.

"Some of the statements were like fairness within discipline. Does it match the actual behavior," Ehlis answered.

"We're calibrating the response across the district. If an offense occurs at any of our buildings, there would be a similar response," Rosenbach said. "Or withing a building, if an offense occurred Tuesday, there would be a similar response if it occurred again with somebody else on Friday who might not be the same as the person on Tuesday," she explained. "It addresses that piece about fairness and consistency in how we respond to student behaviors because students need consistency to learn how to behave appropriately."

"I'm wondering about the word 'fairness.' Would equitable be more of an accurate word?" District 3 Director Nicole Gonzalez Timmons asked. Timmons suggested there could be reasons to treat the same offense differently.

"Because there could be mitigating circumstances where ... it might be the same offense, but if there's some mitigating circumstances with each one would we necessarily want to treat this offense on Tuesday the same as a different student coming in with the same offense on Friday?" Timmons said.

Rosenbach conceded there could be a range of discipline that takes into account different circumstances, but the district needs a "baseline," she said.

"From the district perspective, the equity piece is really, really strong. Part of what we read in the surveys was some concern that people weren't sure ... because there wasn't consistency in all the places, people weren't sure that if I did something and you did something, anybody would talk to both of us," Rosenbach said.

"We make different decisions for different kids," she added.

Turner returned to address the board during the discussion.

"There's implicit bias. There's unconscious bias," he said, so the district's system is set up to address those things.

"Equity is the right word. There has to be consistent discipline that also takes into consideration each individual kid without just running amok because we know there's bias," Turner said.

Author Bio

June Williams, Reporter

Shelton-Mason County Journal & Belfair Herald


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