Growing Pains

As John Champe’s population has grown, I thought that another way that families can connect with the school is through a blog. So with that in mind, this is my first foray into the blogosphere, and my goal is to post musings from time to time on a range of issues and ideas, so I hope that you check back here regularly.
For this first entry, it is hard to not reflect on where we were four years ago versus the first day of school this week. When students walked through the doors on Monday, August 29, 2016, they were entering a school that had established itself in four short years as a premiere high school in Loudoun County. Between various academic and athletic accomplishments, John Champe has enjoyed successes that established schools have yet to experience! And so those new and returning students who arrived on Monday became a part of something larger than themselves: they are now part of a tradition of excellence that has been established here at John Champe High School.
What these students may or may not realize is that four years ago, we were the smallest high school in the county; now we are the largest high school in the county. When we opened four years ago, we were able to fit in the auditorium on the first day of school for introductions and a school-wide meeting before reporting to first period; now we all can’t fit inside the school and have eight modular classrooms! We opened our inaugural year with a SHIELD schedule (a flex schedule where we had a period on B days where students reported back to their classes on a set rotation to receive extra help, make up work, or even to attend school-wide assemblies), and now because of our size, we have Advisory periods instead throughout the day. We had a set bell schedule for the past four years, but now we will have to create adjusted schedules for pep rallies and other events and even add an additional minute of passing time to accommodate our size and our modulars.
The point is, we have had to change because we are a bigger school. And when you grow, there are usually growing pains that go with it. My goal is to try to ease those growing pains for students and staff and still maintain the family atmosphere we have at Champe. But please also know that becoming a large school is not a bad thing by any means. More students means more opportunities for them to connect with peers and have a larger support system as well. It also means more opportunities for different clubs and activities. And having more students also means having more teachers, and as a result, being able to offer a wider range of classes or multiple sections of classes. The bottom-line is that we are a bigger family now. And I used that word “family” five years ago to describe how we would function as a school when we were still a construction site. I use that word again now to emphasize the fact that we are family no matter how large we get: we look out for one another, we support one another, and we treat each other how we would like to be treated. That is the John Champe way. And along those lines, this also includes the 8th graders who will be housed in our school for the next two years through no fault of their own: they are future Knights, so they are family as well and we need to make sure that we make them feel that way. But just like a large family living in a tight space, there will be times when we step on each other’s’ toes or just need some space. And that is fine. It’s to be expected. And sometimes we will just have to agree to disagree but understand that ultimately we are all in it together. But it will also mean that we need to be mindful of one another and make sure that we treat each other with respect. For example, as our credo goes, Character, Honesty, and Respect Generate Excellence. And so I am confident that we will again have another year marked by that–both in the classroom, on the fields and on the court, and in how we interact with one another.
I look forward to this new school year and hope you do too!

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