Today, AWSP Executive Director Gary Kipp and I had the pleasure of visiting John R. Rogers High in Puyallup, where Principal Scott Brittain and his school played host to a national awards ceremony. This event was the first of two media events taking place today to honor Washington state as the winner of the 2007 Noblis Innovative Award for Homeland Security. You can read the full press release here about the award, which recognizes our state's efforts in the school mapping technology. (AWSP has been the link to schools in the mapping process.) In addition to hosting Gov. Gregoire, Supt. Bergeson and several current and former legislators, there were a host of first responder officials (fire, police, sheriff's office and Washington State Patrol) on hand to celebrate.
The event began with a Q&A session with the governor in the school library. Unfortunately, events like these are on ultra-tight timelines, and in reality, there was barely time for one question. But two were asked, and each was posed by a principal in the Puyallup School District: Zeiger Elementary Principal Marc Brouillet and Ferrucci Junior High Principal Aileen Baxter. Their questions focused on the need for improved funding of school safety and mental health detection for students.
The second and more festive portion of the event was a pep assembly, wherein 1,800 students, plus staff and all of the invited guests gathered for the presentation of the award. It was hot and it was crowded, but all in all, it was a nice event. There is nothing like a high school assembly to get you energized for the day! Principal Brittain did a wonderful job of setting the tone, and I was impressed by how attentive the students were, despite having to sit for a very long time (a third of them on the floor -- sorry, sophomores) listening to adults.
I mentioned that Rogers is a school of about 1,800 students; five junior highs filter into this high school. So managing the campus has got to be a huge job. Fortunately, the culture they've developed at Rogers goes a long way toward ensuring a safe and friendly atmosphere, something you noticed right away when you first walk on campus.
When we arrived today, were met and escorted by a handful of juniors and seniors, known as the Rodgers High “Rambassadors” (complete with spiffy embroidered blue polo shirts and khaki pants). Now, today was a special day, so you would expect a little extra polish on things. Except these students are a part of the every day routine of the school, serving as tour guides and backup help at school events . Having them there underscored the welcoming nature of the school and the tone they are striving to hit with all who work and visit there. And that sense of welcoming and security, coupled with the award-winning school mapping technology, is what really helps everyone feel safe, and connected, at school.