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An Ever-Changing Shawnee

Charlotte Mandy, Editor

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Schools are some of the most dynamic institutions in America, microcosms of the future of society. Like all of them, Shawnee High School has grown and changed with the times and annual influx of new individuals. Mr. Matthew Campbell has been around as Shawnee’s principal to see eleven of the school’s forty-seven years, witnessing its evolution firsthand.

Having taught for five years, been an assistant principal at Cherokee, and returned in 2006, Mr. Campbell emphasizes the maturation of a positive school culture over this time. The fruit of this growth is seen in our partnership with the Anti-Defamation League, No Place for Hate, Green Dot, and Upstander.

“We have seen disciplinary numbers and acts of violence drop off,” Mr. Campbell says. “There is a significant downward trend.”

This decrease is shared by many schools across the nation. According to CNN.com, over the last decade anti-bullying programs have made a measurable impact, highlighting the effectiveness and importance of continued efforts to spread awareness and tolerance in academic environments.

As far as student participation goes, as the Report has monitored over the past few months, it fluctuates circumstantially. Mr. Campbell confirms that events are designed to empower students; if they or a staff member comes to administration with an idea they would like to try it, and the logistics work, they let them run with it. “Some things cannot maintain momentum,” Mr. Campbell admits, citing Blue and White Night as an example. “It began completely packed but has dwindled down. We will, hopefully, revitalize and re-brand it.” In the meantime, of course, sporting events, plays, and dances have a consistently good turnout.

Other changes include the new schedule, enacted the 2015-2016 school year. “Dr. Birnbohm did a great job bringing together different members of the Lenape District community, evaluating the old one and building a new one,” Mr. Campbell says. This is one of the largest and most recent updates the principal has been part of. His first year on the job involved a major innovation as well: a period of renovations and additions to the school.

However, like all schools, Shawnee still has room to grow. Despite the great strides that have been made, drug and alcohol abuse are still an issue. The principal explains that opiate usage has caused us to lose several graduates in recent months and that this is what prompted the Academic Fair program on opiates.

“When you stop looking to improve, things backslide,” Mr. Campbell says. “But that is what makes this profession exciting. You’re always looking forward.”

Rather than focusing on any one specific change to anticipate, Mr. Campbell believes in advancing in all areas, whether it is academic or extracurricular. “Students in this building are so talented,” he says, with pride. “You name it, our kids are good at it. We also have amazing teachers and great community support.” It is the collective dedication of a school’s community, after all, that prompts success.

So, with the years beyond high-school in omnipresent sight for all students of Shawnee and the objective of guiding them there held by a committed faculty, importance rests on holding fast to what we do, and doing it better.

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