Let the texting begin.
The high school is relaxing a ban on cell phone use next year, allowing students to use their mobile phones in limited times during the school day.
The regional high school committee Monday voted unanimously in favor of a new pilot policy that allows for students to use cell phones and iPods “within reasonable limits” during passing periods and at lunch time, and during class and at the library at the teacher’s discretion.
Texting will still be banned during class and in the school library to “preserve academic integrity.”
At the school committee meeting, vice principals Andrew Berry and Matthew Malowski outlined the pilot policy, which will be up for review at the end of the next school year. Teachers and staff may allow phone use during class at their discretion, but mobile technology may not be used outside the classroom when class is in session, and headphones, ear buds and phones may not be visible.
The school is getting rid of the current rule, which calls for cell phones to be off and stowed away during school hours, after a survey of students and other schools, Mr. Berry said. Parents were upset about not being able to text their children, he said, and allowing students time to use their phones will be a “pressure relief valve.”
Further, they said, learning responsible use of technology is part of the high school experience.
“Lets get realistic about it and try to find a creative way to make it work,” Mr. Barry said, adding that only 15 per cent of the faculty was willing to enforce the current guidelines. The new policy moves control into the classroom. “We wanted to encourage the use of this mobile technology for legitimate academic reasons . . . banning it doesn’t make any sense.”
Still, the school is “trying to protect the integrity of the academic time,” Mr. Malowski said, by not allowing texting in the classroom. However, phone use may be permitted by some teachers, he said, for legitimate purposes, like taking a picture of notes on the board or looking up things online.
Part of the guideline states that students may not take pictures, video, or an audio recording of another individual without specific permission.
Students who violate the policy will face punishments ranging from a formal warning to having their phone turned in to the office and requiring a parent to sign for it, after school detention and in-school suspension.
If push comes to shove, students could be required to check their iPhones at the door like at a saloon in the Wild West, school committee member Dan Cabot said.
“Hopefully we don’t have to get to that,” Mr. Malowski said.
In other business, high school principal Steven Nixon congratulated junior Dana Jacobs, who created a typeface called Sixty-Four Dollar Question that has gone viral on the Internet — it was downloaded 8,250 times by Wednesday evening. Mr. Nixon said Dana is in negotiations with a UK company for commercial rights.
Sophomore Sadie Dix is one of 19 Islandwide winners in the Martha’s Vineyard Museum’s Island Faces contest. Her portrait of Chris Fischer will be on the display at the museum throughout the summer.
The United Methodist Church of Martha’s Vineyard wrote a letter congratulating Paige Donovan, Caleb Enos, Cal Fiore, Katelyn Fritz, Taylor Gramkowski, Emma Johnson, Jacob Lewis, Chris Pitt, Doug Andrade, Kunal Datta, Michael Cutrer, JeVaughn Crooks, Jacob Lawrence, Vitor Mouzinho, Charlotte Lowell-Bettencourt, Elke Klein, Austin Simonin, Celeste Ewing, Jackie Menton, Liam Wallace, Ian Tripp, Emmajean Holley and Anna Yukevich for volunteering with the Clothes to Go free clothing program and clothing drives.
The Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living thanked the high school’s mentorship program and seniors Mia Benedetto and Amalie Tinus, for volunteering at the center at least two mornings per week. “Social connections are critical throughout life, especially as we age, and Amalie and Mia have contributed so much simply by listening and sharing themselves, their thoughts, talents and aspirations,” center representatives said in a letter.