Superintendent Cary Matsuoka visited MHS to listen to the opinions of a select group of students in the school library during SSR and fifth period on Tuesday, March 4, according to Junior Germain Louie. Its purpose was to allow the superintendent to gain a general perspective of what the students believe would make an ideal principal for MHS, Louie said
In light of the news that the current principal, Kenneth Schlaff, would be retiring after the ongoing school year, the candidate window opened on Monday, March 3, and advertising for a new principal began, Matsuoka said. Applications would be collected for about a month before the screening process would take place; though the student input and perspective he received were important, he would have the final say as he was responsible for any outcome, he continued.
Matsuoka expanded on the process of how a principal would be chosen as well: “We’re still designing an interview process, and I hope to incorporate a student panel, but I still have to figure that out. The interview process takes place on Monday, April 14 and concludes after three days,” Matsuoka said. “We hope to identify the candidate by late April and depending on where the person as well as their job situation, we can try for an introduction [in the school].”
The students who were chosen to speak at the meeting with the superintendent were ones who would represent the diversity of MHS, according to Assistant Principal Laurie Armino,. The group of students included people of all grades from AVID, Project Based Learning, Band, Leadership, Dreamkeepers, Horizontes, Special Education, and more, she added.
“From my knowledge based off of what I heard at the meeting, we, students, were originally chosen for a WASC interview that was scheduled the day after the meeting with Mr. Matsuoka,” Louie said. “However, Mr. Matsuoka requested for a variety of students on campus, and it just happened to be that the students selected for the WASC interview were chosen strategically to have different types of students to voice their opinions and possibly concerns.”
Two questions that Matsuoka posed were the qualities that the students attending the meeting would like to see in the next principal and what would they want the next principal to know about the school. A principal should be a model, someone students would want to be and someone who would motivate them to succeed in high school as well as in the future, Sophomore Joselle Santillan said. Schlaff was approachable and was a good model, and that’s what she hopes to see in the next principal, she added.
Junior Rubaba Haque was also able to voice her opinions at the meeting as well: “I think as a principal availability and connecting with the students at school are necessary. I also think confidence, initiative, sympathetic, friendly qualities are important for a principal to have,” Haque said. “I think [the listening period] was pretty crucial because every day we go on doing our business and there is minimal or no communication with administrators. This was our chance.”
The listening period did not affect her in particular because it was her last year at MHS, but she believed it was a good experience for the underclassmen to go through, according to Senior Biancka Dela Cruz. A principal must be visible, involved in school programs and should set the standards for the teachers, Dela Cruz added.