By ERIK HIDLE
In the midst of seeming disarray, the Hood River County School District still operates. Students still learn, teachers still teach and people still care.
After the resignation of ex-Principal Ben Kolb on Sept. 23, and the resignation of Superintendent Jerry Sessions on Sept. 25, the entire school district has fallen under scrutiny by the community.
At the epicenter of the public relations hurricane sits Hood River Valley High School.
The letters have been sent, the comments have been made and the question was asked, “When did the system stop working?”
The answer is that the system has never stopped working. Even with the departure of two administrators from last year’s staff, Kolb and former athletic director Glenn Elliott, and the insertion of co-principals, Steve Fisk and Martha Capovilla, the classes still continue as scheduled at Hood River Valley High School.
“The schools are running very well,” said Jan Veldhuisen Virk, chairperson of the school board “The problems involving the administration have not affected the students. All of the feedback I have received from teachers, students and parents has been extremely positive. Classes are still being held and students are still being educated by excellent teachers.”
ASB President Willy Galvin agreed. “I believe that when it comes to what is important here at the school, you can trust what you are being told,” he said.
Along with the trust and the professionalism that is involved comes the school’s ability to perform and function as an educational body. Hood River Valley High School received the highest rating possible for student behavior and school-wide characteristics on the most recent report card issued by the state, while bordering on a rating between “Satisfactory” and “Strong” for the school as a whole.
“We have a great group of kids,” stated Fisk, “I stand by that, 97 percent of these students will go to school here for four years, without having any major problems with discipline or academics and graduate on time.”
However, the schools of modern day are as much communities as establishments.
Along with everything you would expect from a 1,100-student center for education, Hood River Valley High School still finds time to integrate a full week of activities for Homecoming, manage dances for the students on weekends and organize community service opportunities with the local charities. But, what many people do not know, is that all of the activities listed are organized and put on by the students themselves.
The students involved in the school’s Leadership and Student Government classes work in an almost seamless fashion under loose supervision to put on a fluid series of events throughout the year.
Furthermore, a vast supply of clubs, special interest classes and sports are in effect to allow for more involvement with the school.
Several clubs, such as FBLA, FFA and National Honor Society are constantly involved not only with the community but also in competitions, reinforcing the merit of educational success to mirror the achievements of the Hood River Valley sports teams.
With the move into the new IMC sports league and the change of athletic directors, the sports teams at the school remain in stride with the academics. Hood River Valley High sent three fall sports teams into the state playoffs, a more than admirable accomplishment considering a 33 percent budget cut, the increased travel and new, unknown competition.
Hood River Valley High School’s gears work better than an outside eye may expect. Unlike a standard business, the stocks aren’t going to fall, students aren’t going to be demoted into a lower area of the school to do remedial work and teachers aren’t going to stop trying because the administration is going through a rough patch.
Fisk said, “There will always be problems within a school, but I expect for everyone to work through them and continue on. If there are any skeptics, I invite them to come down and take a look, sit in on a class, meet with the teachers or even talk with the students. The answers you find may surprise you.”
When it comes down to the important aspects of what a school stands for, Hood River Valley High School makes the grade. The seniors will graduate, the report cards will be sent out and the fire drills will still be held.