The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

New year, new attendance policy


Since the days of online school and asynchronous days, many students have struggled to attend class regularly and on time.

This year, the faculty and administration have started implementing and executing multiple new attendance policies to prevent class absences, all-day absences and tardies.

Part of these new policies is the Start On Time program. This is a school-wide initiative created to prevent tardiness and absences among students. School Staff is supposed to walk students to their classes after the bell and start up a conversation about why they aren’t where they’re supposed to be. 

“Instead of closing doors and pushing kids into a room and giving them detention, let’s talk with the kid, let’s build a relationship,” Principal Shawn DeRose said.  “let’s figure out what’s going on, walk them to class, let them know that we’re excited that they’re here and how important it is to go to class.”

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I understand that the idea behind this program is for staff to create relationships with students that “change their behavior” but its real effects seem much different than its predicted effects.

From what I’ve experienced and seen in the halls, these conversations either don’t happen or are so generic that they sound like they’re using sentence starters. 

This system has the right idea but poor execution, besides the fact that students are getting escorted to class.

Getting walked to class by a teacher or staff member is not always an agreeable tome for students especially when they’re rushing to get to their next class.

The senior class is edging into adulthood and I’d hope that the Start On Time Program was put in place to do more than just escort students around the halls. It takes more than a walk in the hall to change the behavior of a student.

To combat the school’s attendance issue with a plan involving almost the entire staff, everyone needs to be on board and willing to make connections with students that will benefit them.

The key to solving attendance issues is finding out what’s going on, which seems to be glossed over in the Start On Time Program. Disciplinary issues at school can be difficult to deal with because just like with teaching, every student is different and may require a different approach to solving their problem. 

The Attendance Team monitors kids who are tardy and the kids who are the most frequently tardy receive a lunch detention the following week. The consequences progress if the student continues to be tardy. 

This approach to managing tardiness sticks the same kids who are always late to class or absent in detention over and over again. 

While the consequences do escalate, detention is just a band-aid punishment, not a solution to the larger problem. 

Principal DeRose describes a holistic approach to tackling issues of attendance that I do not see being carried out.  “We’re doing everything we can to support them, talking to them about coming to school, what’s getting in the way of them coming to school, what supports we have as a school, and then constant communication with the student and their family.”

There are endless reasons why a student may be late or absent that don’t include laziness, thoughtfulness, or a disregard for their education. Helping students address those reasons collaboratively is a step in the right direction.

Having policies and staff that are there to support and uplift students is necessary to enact any meaningful change in student attendance.

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About the Contributor
Aya Al-Ariqi
Aya Al-Ariqi, Editorials Editor
Senior, Aya Al-Ariqi is in her 3rd year on the A-Blast staff. Her current position is Editorials editor and previous positions include co-in-depth editor and staff writer. In her free time, she enjoys thrifting, hiking, and spending time with her friends and family. Next year Aya hopes to study communications with a concentration in media production at VCU.

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