Does your school rule?
Whether sending your child to school for the first time or for the last, understanding the rules is crucial to having a good experience.
To help parents and students gear up for the first day of school (in Alexandria, it's next Tuesday), the newspaper talked with Matt Aker, principal of Discovery Middle School (DMS), to get the scoop on school rules and policy.
An established dress code is vital to ensuring respect has prevalence at our schools.
The District 206 dress code restricts the following:
--Clothing which advertises cigarettes, alcohol or chemicals.
--Clothing which displays profanity or shows the human body in a sexually offensive way.
--Clothing which is racist.
--Gang related clothing.
--All hats, caps, sunglasses and hoods.
--Shirts which display skin above the waist.
--Pants worn too low.
--Dresses, skirts, shorts and skorts are in violation if they do not surpass one's fingertips when arms are resting at student's side.
In addition to these rules, students must have straps on shirts that are at least one inch on each shoulder, and must not expose excessive skin.
"If you have to ask yourself if it's appropriate, it's probably not," said Aker.
WHAT NOT TO BRING TO SCHOOL
Along with inappropriate clothing, there are various items children should refrain from bringing to school in order to ensure their and their peers' safety.
Aker admonishes students not to bring electronic devices. This is because they are disruptive and can be stolen or damaged.
Cell phones should remain in lockers; students will be punished for using cell phones in class.
Open foods are also strongly discouraged as they attract ants and other bugs. Wrapped foods, such as granola bars are allowed.
Typically, snacks are not allowed in classrooms at the middle and high school.
Water is the only beverage allowed at school and must be in a clear bottle. Mixes for Gatorade, Powerade, etc. are not allowed in the water.
Although consequences vary depending on the rule broken, Aker has a general rule of thumb: "We try to make them understand why we have those rules."
Instead of giving students detention immediately, the student's dean will sit down and have a discussion with that student.
If the rule continues to be broken, detention will become a more viable option for punishment.
If a student is caught using a cell phone in class, the device will be taken. The parents can retrieve the device, or the device will be returned three days after it was seized.
Punishment for being tardy multiple times or skipping school or individual classes is detention.
Aker would like to remind students that food cannot be ordered for lunchtime at Discovery. For example, pizza cannot be ordered to the school.
Aker also wanted to remind middle school students that backpacks can be brought to school, but must remain in lockers during the school day.
WHY SO MANY RULES?
Understanding the rules is only half of it. Students should also understand why the rules are in place.
Aker explained that part of the reason rules were necessary was that the school would be chaotic if nearly 1,000 students could do whatever they choose.
He also remarked, "It [rules] creates a learning environment where everyone feels safe."
The school district also has expectations: It expects that its students remain respectful of one another.
"We've got fabulous kids here that are respectful of rules and adults," said Aker.
To further familiarize yourself with the rules, go online to www.alexandria.k12.mn.us. Student handbooks will also be available in the fall.