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Dec. 3, 2007

Last Principal Breakfast of 2007 held Thursday

by Emily Hsiao, Online Managing Editor
The last Principal Breakfast for 2007 was held on Thursday from 7 8 a.m. in the media center. During the breakfast, Principal Darryl Williams introduced Officer Dane Onario, the new Education Facilities Officer (EFO), who replaced Officer Stan Barsch. The PTSA plans to hold more breakfasts in 2008, but the dates are still undecided, according to PTSA co-president David Ottalini.

Approximately 20 parents showed up on Thursday, though the number of parents varies at each event. "It kind of ebbs and flows and last year we had one where nobody showed up," Ottalini said, "but I think that because Mr. Williams is new, people are still trying to get a feel for his managing style and what kind of person he is so there was more parents." Parents asked questions about Blair's security, academic ineligibility, absence policy and many other issues.

The PTSA has been organizing breakfasts for many years to give parents an opportunity to ask the principal questions. "We hold these meetings for those parents who may be unable to attend the monthly evening PTSA meetings," Williams said. "However, the major purpose is to have a dialogue with me and get to know me better."

Williams believes the breakfasts help form closer relationship between parents and the school. "I think these meetings are effective because they strengthen the home-school partnerships," he said. "In addition, suggestions are shared to support other parents or the school and concerns are shared where staff members or I can improve our school."

Williams invited Onario to meet the parents on Thursday, Onario's first day of his new job. Blair's former EFO, Barsch, returned to his previous patrol. Onario's introduction brought up questions about aspects of Blair's security such as the cameras. Williams believes Blair may need additional cameras because of its huge size. "We still have some blind spots," he said. "It's just helpful to have extra security."

Williams gave parents an update on the number of students that made Honor Roll and the process Blair will go through this week to get accredited by the Middle States Association (MSA). Parents also asked questions about what types of activities academically ineligible students are allowed to participate in, why Blair continues to enroll new students throughout the year and whether hygiene is an issue at the school.

The breakfast was a good opportunity for parents to get the principal's complete attention, according to Ottalini. "You basically get the undivided attention of the principal for a whole hour," he said. "Parents want to come if they have specific issues and also if they just want to get more information."

The Principal Breakfast serves as an important means of communication between the parents and the school. "It's effective for parents who come and can talk to the one person who knows everything," Ottalini said. "Its one part of a much larger communication sheet that we are trying to improve like the answering messages and electronic signs. You can never have too much communication."

Williams agrees but feels that having additional staff members at the meetings may be more helpful in answering certain questions. "The breakfasts are great ways to increase communication and I am satisfied," he said. "If parents have a specific topic that needs clarification, then it would be helpful to have additional staff members who can speak on the topic."

Parents can learn about upcoming Principal Breakfasts through PTSA listserves, PTSA meetings, robodial calls and Blair's electronic sign outside the school.



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