Frederick students want more freedom at lunch, better equipment -- Gazette.Net


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Urbana High School seniors on Tuesday told Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent Theresa Alban they only have a few things they would change about their school experience.

They would like to see school lunches become more appealing and healthy. And they would not mind if school officials upgraded some of the outdated equipment in their auditorium and TV studio.

But when it comes to school programs and their teachers, seniors agree there is little room for improvement.

“The teachers just care and they want you to succeed,” said senior Connor Smith, who added his teachers often stay late to work with students.

“[Our experience] would not have been nearly as great if teachers had not had that amount of passion,” Smith said.

This was the kind of feedback Alban received from students on the day she started visiting all of Frederick County’s 10 high schools.

Alban, in her first year as superintendent, wants meet in person with seniors from each graduating class and give students an informal opportunity to tell her about the pluses and minuses of their experience with Frederick County Public Schools.

“I think the best way to improve customer service is to talk with your customers. And you are our customers,” Alban told seniors. “I get to speak at your graduation and I wanted it to be meaningful to you.”

As part of the hour-long conversation, Alban learned about Urbana High School’s graduating class, which seniors think stands out with its high achievement, school pride, diversity and openness.

Urbana High School seniors made local and national headlines earlier this school year, when they selected Kevin Schombert — a student with Down syndrome — as their homecoming king. Nominating Schombert, the manager for the school basketball team, was a student-led effort. Students think their open attitude toward personal differences sets them apart from graduates in other Frederick County high schools.

“A lot of classes have good grades,” said senior Chad Byrd. “But I don’t think anybody else has anyone as special as Kevin win homecoming king.”

Students opened up about improvements that would affect graduating classes coming in behind them.

Some told Alban they would appreciate an opportunity to have open lunch, which would allow them to leave school campus for 30 minutes every day. It could be a privilege just for seniors, who are responsible enough to stay safe and not abuse the freedom, senior Courtney Smith told Alban.

While Alban took notes on students’ recommendations for improvement and promised to discuss them with her cabinet members, seniors said they appreciated the opportunity to give feedback.

“It was nice to be able to say something about my experience,” Courtney said. “It was really comfortable.”

Alban continues her visits today, when she will be stopping at Tuscarora High School. She will be at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School on April 16; Linganore High School on April 17; Frederick High School on April 19; Walkersville and Brunswick High Schools on April 23 and Middletown High School and the Frederick County Career and Technology Center on April 24.

mraycheva@gazette.net