Now that our 2019-2020 enrollment has mostly settled for this semester, we will be reducing class sizes for a few courses which will generally provide more opportunity for teacher-student interaction.
While the vast majority of students’ schedules will not change, students in high-enrollment classes will have their schedules adjusted over the next few days as we place them into the new sections. The teachers are aware of the pending changes, and we do not anticipate any issues with the transitions.
We know that your students are settling into their routines, so we wanted to make these changes as soon as possible. Students will be notified of any changes on Tuesday, August 20th, and the new schedules will go into effect on Wednesday, August 21st.
Additionally, as we begin week three, I need parental help and support ensuring the culture we’ve created stays strong and endures for the year… specifically, I need your help with our grooming, dress code and cell phone usage. The most common infractions are haircuts for boys, length of shorts/skirts for boys/girls, wrong colors for polos and pants, and cell phone usage during the school day. Please ensure your students come to school properly dressed and groomed… thank you!
One last issue, SAFETY… I need parents/guardians/grandparents/students to comply with the GNHS drop off/pick up and parking rules (https://www.alaschools.org/parent-resources/traffic-plans). Please do not drop off/pick up students near the entrance to the concession stand, near the weight room or near the blue lunch ramada. The designated drop off/pick up location is on the west side of the main high school building across from the tennis courts. Thank you for your support with this!
We appreciate your patience, flexibility, and trust as we work to ensure we deliver “the best educational experience… in a moral and wholesome environment” to you and your students.
Letter from the Director
ALA Eagle Families,
It was an amazing first week at ALA-GN 7-12! I told my wife it was the most fun I’ve had in the 5 years I’ve been part of ALA! I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and getting to know so many of your children… they’re incredibly kind young people!
Heading into week two, I wanted to pass along some helpful information to you.
First, your children really are exceptional! I saw so many acts of kindness this week on campus… holding doors for others, making compliments, picking up trash, helping new students find their way around, seeking out the lonely… it was a great week!
At our first assembly Friday, I spoke to your children about “being KIND, showing EMPATHY, trying to INSPIRE, and the need to CONNECT… which will create a powerful NETWORK of friends.” I love this “kind culture” that the students are embracing!
Second, our traffic inflow/outflow has improved drastically from day one! One area of concern I need your help with is the student drop off/pick up areas. Please remember that students may only be dropped off/picked up at the rear (west side) of the main HS building across from the tennis courts. We do this to keep your students SAFE. With over a thousand cars converging on our relatively small campus in a short 20-25 minute span, our morning and afternoon traffic have all the ingredients of a very dangerous situation.
When you combine that with several hundred young/inexperienced drivers operating in tight spaces; hundreds of distracted students crossing through traffic as they hurry to get home; and even a fairly large number of adult drivers who are distracted with texting or phone calls as they come through the parking lots, the RISKS of an accident are HIGH. The ONLY way we can keep your children SAFE is to lock arms with you and be vigilant… and follow the guidelines for drop off/pick up. PLEASE HELP us by ensuring you do not drop off/pick up students anywhere other than at the designated pick up point.
Third, we’ve had many students and families requesting schedule changes to accommodate a preferred lunch period. Please help your student understand that changing a lunch period isn’t as simple as just moving the student’s lunch period. Lunch periods are set by the academic class the student has before lunch. So, adjusting lunch means adjusting classes; and adjusting classes creates impacts that ripple to other students. For this reason, we cannot approve changes to student lunch periods.
Fourth, I’ve been impressed with the positive feedback on our enforcement of the dress code. As a staff, we’ve worked exceptionally hard to train to the standards and we're committed to enforcing the standards consistently. Some of the frequent violations of the dress code are: wrong colors, shirts not tucked for boys, boys didn’t wear a belt, girls’ shorts or skirts are thigh length (they should be no shorter than an inch above the knee)… but, for the most part, we’re doing very well. Also, boys must wear their hair “off the ears, off the collar and out of their face.” Please take a moment with your student and review ALA’s Uniform Dress Code Policy in our 7-12 Student Handbook and let’s not allow our dress and grooming standards get in the way of “the best educational experience.”
Fifth, I’ve also appreciated how the students are supporting the administration’s enforcement of the “no cell phone” policy. As a reminder, cell phones should remain off from 8:15 am-2:55 pm or during the school day if we’re having early release. In other words, students may use cell phones before and after school, but may not have them out during lunch or at any other time during the day. The biggest challenge for some has been using cell phones during lunch. I spent considerable time this week visiting with many of your children encouraging them to “talk to one another… to make friends… and to experience conversation” as opposed to putting their heads down and staring at their phones. Not a single student argued with me when I asked them to turn off their phone and engage in conversation. In fact, it was fun showing some of them how to start a conversation and how to make a friend.
In support of this policy, ALA GN Student Government and the Fine Arts Department are sponsoring a Parent Night with Collin Kartchner, this coming Tuesday, August 13, 2019, from 7pm-8: 30 pm in our ALA GN Auditorium (for tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/collin-kartchner-savethekids-tickets-68209148399). Collin is a Youth Advocate, Social Media Activist, TEDx speaker, and dad. He has started a campaign to #SavetheKids from social media and screen addiction’s negative affect on mental and emotional health. His message has resonated with the masses, as he has since spoken to 100,000+ youth and adults across the country. Collin is on a crusade to help educate parents on the damage social media and 24/7 access to peer culture will have on their child's mental health. His goal is to help teens rise above social media comparison, negativity, cyberbullying, and the stress of being perfect.
Finally, I know you have a choice when it comes to educating your children. I want to thank you all for trusting us with your children. My staff and I are 100% committed to supporting your family by “providing the best educational experience to as many students as possible in a moral and wholesome environment.” If we don’t live up to your expectations, please let me know. I’m motivated by the positive and kind energy that emanates from your children… it’s a great day to be at ALA… and tomorrow will be even better!
Dear ALA Families,
Tomorrow is day one of ALA’s 2019-2020 school year… it’s going to be amazing! My staff and I are very excited to help your children reach their potential! I’m so proud of our entire team… they’ve been exceptionally positive and eager during our staff training sessions over the past two weeks… their enthusiasm and motivation to make this the best year ever and deliver “the best educational experience to as many students as possible in a moral and wholesome environment” is infectious!
I don’t want to repeat what I’ve said in my last two “Letters from the Director” but I would like to remind you to re-read them and share this important information with your children. If your students are aware of the contents and embrace them, together we will have the best year! One of my goals is to help our entire staff become better at communicating with our customers… you, the families of ALA!
Safety is a Priority!
Everyone at ALA wants your children to be safe on campus… and every employee wants to work in a safe environment. When we follow ALA’s policies, procedures, and protocols, safety can be maintained. Please encourage your students that drive to school to have greater situational awareness tomorrow and during this first week of school… and, please encourage them to be patient and to operate their vehicles with the utmost care and respect of others… we’re a K-12 campus, and lots of “smaller people” need our undivided attention!
Also, for those that walk north from the south of the 202, please pay attention to the crosswalk signals and look both ways… sometimes drivers don’t pay attention! Think SAFETY FIRST!
Traffic Ingress & Egress… and being kind to the San Savino HOA
Traffic tomorrow to/from school will be less than desirable. It happens every year on the first few days… and, by the end of the first week, everyone seems to figure it out and the typical first-day congestion and delays dissipate. Please review “the traffic plan” and pay particular attention to the flow pattern, parking lots and pick-up/drop-off locations. FYI, if you want to beat the traffic please bring your students early… our 7-12 campus will be open for students at 7:30 am. And, if you want to avoid the afternoon traffic, please come a little late (~3:15 pm). You’ll thank me for the recommendation!
A friendly reminder to 7-12 families that have students attending ALA-Gilbert North Elementary, please ask your students to exit the northeast corner of the high school building and walk across the play area on the west side of the elementary campus to join their siblings for pick-up. We do not want the K-6 students to walk from the elementary campus to the 7-12 campus. Thank you for your help with this.
Lastly, for students and families that do not live in the San Savino neighborhood, please understand that the Home Owners Association (HOA) asked us to remind our students and drivers to NOT traverse their neighborhood to/from ALA’s campus. Our Dean, Mr. Jeff Oliverson and I personally met with Gilbert’s Assistant Chief of Police, Mr. Jeff Thompson and assured him and the HOA leadership that we will strongly encourage ALA students and families to respect the HOA’s wishes.
Bottom line: please help us be the best neighbors!!!
Be KIND… Show EMPATHY… Be PATIENT… Be POSITIVE!
My staff and I are committed to demonstrating more KINDNESS, showing more EMPATHY, being PATIENT and POSITIVE. We ask that you join us in this endeavor. We believe if we unitedly embrace the R.A.I.S.E values, consistently teach/enforce ALA’s policies and procedures, “the environment” at ALA will be exactly what we all want for our students, families and our community!
Thank you for trusting us… can’t wait to greet your students tomorrow!!!
Dear ALA Families,
In one week, we start the 2019-2020 school year… it’s going to be amazing! I’m very excited to serve as the Director of the ALA-Gilbert North 7-12 campus and help your children reach their potential! I’m proud of the all-star team of professionals we’ve assembled that are committed to delivering “the best educational experience to as many students as possible in a moral and wholesome environment!” I promised you in my last “Letter from the Director” that I would send additional information to help you and your students have a less stressful and more effective year… so, here we go!
Why We Chose ALA
Let’s remind ourselves why we chose ALA. I’ve received hundreds of emails, texts and calls from many of you telling me the number one reason you and your students chose ALA was “the environment.” You said we should “do everything possible to protect it.” So, I need your help… and I need your students’ help in recommitting to making “the environment” a priority.
Moral & Wholesome Environment (R.A.I.S.E Values and Dress Code)
We believe that the moral and wholesome environment at ALA creates a safe culture where distractions are minimized, and learning is accelerated. School rules are designed to protect all students and foster an environment of order and discipline. The environment is primarily shaped by ALA’s R.A.I.S.E values (respect, accountability, integrity, service, excellence). The RAISE values must be consistently embraced and lived by all ALA employees and students.
ALA’s dress code and grooming standards also significantly contribute to the environment. When your students show up every day and comply with the dress code and grooming standards, they demonstrate a personal commitment, respect, and unity toward their ALA family. For specific details on the dress code and grooming standards please refer to the 7-12 Parent & Student Handbook (the Handbook) on ALA’s website (alaschools.org).
Facilities (Food & Drink)
Another contributing factor that makes the environment at ALA attractive is our exceptional, beautiful, and amazing facilities. I’ve conducted in excess of a hundred tours of our Gilbert North Campus since we opened in August 2017 and every single guest has commented on how incredibly proud we must be of our facilities. I agree with them! If we want our facilities to last beyond a few years, we’ll need to change some of the bad habits we’ve formed.
According to the Handbook, there is to be no food or drink in the halls and classrooms (with the exception of water), unless prior arrangements have been made with the School Administration. Additionally, no gum is allowed on campus (see pg 13). Unfortunately, we’ve had to spend considerable time and money this summer scraping gum off several hundred tables, desks and chairs and, repairing facility damages associated with Polar Pops, Dutch Bros. coffee and hot chocolate spills. Please help us… let’s teach and demonstrate to our students the importance of picking up after ourselves and leaving our campus in a better condition than we found it. Let’s work together to keep our facilities clean, professional looking and a source of pride for each of us!
One last issue I need your help with is cell phones. According to the Handbook, Cell Phones and Smart Watches are allowed on campus; however, they must be turned off and out of sight from the time they come on campus until the end of the school day (see pg 35). Unfortunately, many of our students have disregarded ALA’s policy and some of our staff members have been inconsistent with enforcement of these policies… for that, I apologize.
My staff and I have recommitted to ALA’s Board and to all of our families that “the environment” at ALA matters. My staff and I have also committed to being more KIND, showing more EMPATHY, helping to INSPIRE more and helping to CONNECT more of our students to one another. We believe if we unitedly live the RAISE values, consistently teach and enforce ALA’s dress code and grooming standards and comply with the Handbook, the environment at ALA will become “the environment” we all want for our students! It will be a place that’s harassment-free, bully-free, discrimination-free… a place with the best students, the best family members, the best community members, the best citizens. I know that’s why my wife and I chose ALA for our children… and I believe you did too.
Thank you for trusting us and thank you for locking arms with us!
You’ll hear more from me in a few days.
Dear ALA Families,
My name is Brent McArthur and I’m very excited to be the new Director for the ALA-Gilbert North 7-12 campus. I want to pass along my gratitude to Erik Huso (former Director) for the amazing results he and his team achieved over the past two years to create an amazing academic and cultural foundation for us to build upon.
I want each of you to know that I’m incredibly passionate about ALA, education, life-long learning and helping young people realize their potential and become who they were created to be. I believe education can be liberating and can expose each of us to wonderful opportunities to create and add value within our schools, families, and communities. I’m super committed to ALA’s vision, mission and RAISE values! I helped create them! I’ve seen first-hand the incredible and positive changes in thousands of current and former ALA students that have occurred in our schools, families, and communities.
I’m proud to be leading our current administrative team. Over the past 48 hours, I’ve been engaged in training 22 brand new teachers to ALA. I’ve been impressed with each of them… their passion, teaching experience, and commitment to ALA’s vision, mission and values are motivating to me! Our 55 returning teachers come back tomorrow and we’ll start immediately recommitting ourselves to excellence in every aspect of ALA’s business… “to provide the best educational experience to as many students as possible in a moral and wholesome environment.”
I am super amazed at the accomplishments of this past year… our student population grew to almost 1,600 students, our 132 seniors earned well over $1M in scholarships, our Junior High athletics teams won 10 championships, our Entrepreneur students earned more than $50K, our fine arts programs attracted several hundred students and continue to grow. The excitement across our campus is palpable!
The 2019-2020 school year is going to be amazing… our staff has been working tirelessly through the summer to improve upon all aspects of our academics, extra-curricular offerings, and day-to-day operations.
One final note, my personal focus this year, along with our staff, will be to lead and show our students how to embrace the following behaviors and actions: KINDNESS, EMPATHY, INSPIRE, CONNECT. These words, when understood, combined and executed along with our RAISE values, will lead to an environment where anyone and everyone will want to be. Being KIND, showing EMPATHY, working to INSPIRE others and personally trying to CONNECT with as many students as possible will create a wonderful school setting where our students can truly realize their potential.
FYI, I’ll be sending more information to you this coming week that will help make the start of school less stressful and more effective for you and your student(s)… please be on the lookout for these email reminders and please discuss them with your children. Together, we’re going to make the 2019-2020 school year at ALA-Gilbert North the best year ever!
See you soon!