Volume 16

This Week at South Vol. 16

Good Morning South Students, Parents, Staff, and Community Members,

Please find the Weekly Bulletin for January 6th through 10th (Also Attached)

Part I: The News

Welcome Back to School!

The school is busy this morning with students returning, reconnecting with friends, and making their way to classes. Our intentions in the new year are much as they were starting last fall: focusing on our strengths and celebrating positive outcomes, reflecting in order to continuously improve, practicing random acts of kindness and building community, and being grateful for what we have here at South.

We hope everyone is well-rested and ready to get after it.

High School Graduation Rates Soar:

As a group, all ASD high schools saw substantial growth in graduation rates in 2019. South is no exception with a 94.79% four year rate, and a 98.01% five year graduation rate. 

This is the result of a large group of people, including students, parents, teachers, support staff, and the community at-large aligning their individual efforts to a common vision of our students fulfilling their highest potentials. We intend to both sustain the highest rate in the district, as well as build on it in the years to come, and hope you will all join us in making sure students attend regularly and are intentional in their approach to school work. 


Congratulations to our Wrestling team who took third place at state! 

The Boys Basketball Team visited Phoenix over break and returned with a 3-0 record with a win over Service High School, and momentum, which they carried into a hard fought game against Thunder Mountain on Saturday, January 4th. 

The Girls Basketball Team traveled to Ketchikan over break to participate in a tournament, and will be back in action against Palmer at 3 pm, 4:30 pm, and 6 pm tonight at South.

The Girls Hockey outdoor game has been rescheduled to this Friday, January 10th at 4 pm at the Mulcahy Outdoor Rink. There will be music, food, and prizes including a drawing for two Alaska Airlines tickets. 

Part II: Big Ideas & Their Application

I left off last semester by introducing Keystone Habits, cognitive learning strategies, and how these relate to cell phones. In particular, how our new cell phone policy’s purpose is to increase productive face-to-face communication, make learning more efficient, and to increase focus on academic content and experiences in each classroom. 

We will formally introduce the policy to students this week using a three part structure. If you have a cell phone policy or expectation of your own student in your household, this might also be a helpful structure with which to talk to them about why it matters that we are intentional about how and when we use cell phones, including their effect on communication, getting tasks done in a timely manner, and remaining focused on a goal over time. The three part structure we’ll use includes the three questions below, which will be addressed in each classroom as we introduce the policy.

What is the policy? 

Here is a link to the policy which will be provided to each student.

Why are we doing this?

Three key reasons: improved communication, improved efficiency, improved focus on academic content and experience. See additional research on the five hour rule and deep practice linked below.

How is it going to be done?

This will vary depending on the classroom in which a student is learning and how a cell phone relates to the academic goal. In some classrooms, cell phones will be rarely used, and in others, they may be quite common. The foundation of the policy is to tie cell phone use to academic goals as defined by the teacher in each classroom.

  • Possible examples of no cell phone use: during tests and quizzes, when teachers are providing direct instruction or when students are participating in whole group or small group discussions, and when students are using tools or other equipment. The intent is to maximize active listening, participation, and focus.
  • Possible examples of cell phone use for learning: completing a review game using phones, researching a curricular topic, composing notes, or taking pictures or videos for a project. The intent is to use the phone as a resource to attain an educational goal.

We believe that teaching students how to learn is as important as what they learn, and setting expectations for cell phones and earbud use are part of that mission. Our aim is to create students who are fully present, focused on their learning, and able to articulate their learning needs. The following two resources provide a larger context for why we should all take an active role in teaching our students how to learn:

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born, It’s Grown by Daniel Coyle: The link provides a quick overview and 4 minute video about how deep practice, commitment, and coaching underlie great performance.