There are nine characteristics students can strive to embody during the school year. Photo submitted

We Are Lassen shifts high school culture toward unity and respect

The plan is to unite Lassen High School students and staff in to a cohesive unit, celebrating the good in all and rewarding the efforts of those who help make LHS a better place.

The beginning of the school year, the district rolled out the new We Are Lassen program bent on improving the culture on campus.

“It’s been slow, but it’s starting to become something the kids are striving for,” said Junior Class President and Student Trustee Neil Growdon, who helped kick start the program into being.

In prior years there was some division on campus, he explained. The various clubs clashed with each other, as did some of the sports teams and there was some bullying, but Growdon hopes the new program will fully change the campus culture.

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“It has made a difference over the past month, but it’ll take time to change the culture of the school,” he added.

The We Are Lassen program recognizes students who embody the various themes the program name stands for: welcoming excellence, respectful, loyal, authentic, strong, successful, engaged and noble.

Teachers are able to nominate students whenever he or she demonstrates the characteristic of the month. The student goes to the office with the nomination and gets a bracelet showcasing the theme. Every Friday, from the list of students who received bracelets, two to three names are drawn to receive a We Are Lassen shirt.

“It’s neat to see all the different kinds of kids get into it,” said Administrative Assistant Joceyln Parady. Working in the main office she’s there as the kids come in to receive their bracelets and shirts.

There can be about 200 bracelets given out to students every month. However, with the new program, students are also able to recognize standout teachers with an Impact

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Lassen High School Senior Devon Stovall, left, nominates teacher Jon Westfall for an Impact bracelet, a feature of the new We Are Lassen initiative. Photo by Makenzie Davis

bracelet.

The program helps promote more understanding and mutual respect between faculty and students, senior Devon Stovall said.

He and his classmate Cole Dyer presented teacher Jon Westfall with an Impact bracelet Wednesday, Sept. 26. When teachers are recognized, the nominating students, and office staff disrupt the teacher’s classroom to honor them in front of students.

“He’s just one of the best teachers here, easily,” said Stovall, adding he teaches more than just American History: He teaches life skills and when he says he’s going to treat students like adults, he follows through.

Stovall added he believes the program will be very beneficial for the younger grades. Upper classmen are already set in their ways, but he has noticed a shift in campus culture.

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“When they first announced it, people kind of thought it was dumb. But they’re warming up to it,” said Stovall. He also added Assistant Principal Josh Blackburn’s presence on campus, and his work implementing the We Are Lassen program, is helping improve the culture. Although he hasn’t received a bracelet yet, Stovall would like to get the Respectful nomination.

Growdon, who favors the Loyal bracelet, knows it will take a while for the program to have a full impact — but he’s excited to see what happens and is hopeful he’ll get to see the changes by the time he graduates in 2020. If not though, he plans to return to visit or maybe even teach at LHS in the future.                   “We’ve got the foundation. It can only go up from here,” Growdon said.

Last spring, he and Blackburn were able to visit Manteca High School and learn about their similar program. Following that visit, the Associated Student Body got to work coming up with all the characteristics that embody what the school is.

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Ultimately, Growdon just hopes the program will continue to bring students together under the LHS family and end the clashing seen between groups. Other students have seen changes as well, albeit small in the beginning.

Senior Lou Averill noted, “Everyone’s been a lot more polite to each other … compared to last year.” However, he did note that the upperclassmen seemed more focused on graduating and the lower grades were more excited about the program. He also said there seemed to be less drama already.

Layne Jones, also a senior, took a year off from LHS. Coming back this year she did notice a change. “Being back here, people are more willing to go out of their way to say hi to you,” Jones added.

School resource officer Terra Avilla also commented on the shift on campus. Avilla served as the SRO about two years ago and came back for the new year. “I think it totally changed the climate of faculty and students,” she said. “There’s been a positive attitude shift change.”

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Avilla noted many are quick to point out the negatives, but was excited for the new program adding she can see the program already working.

Overall, time will tell of the effectiveness of the We Are Lassen program; but a shift is already being felt, and those on campus are hoping the shift continues.