Mr. Struble updates students on this school year


Tracy Zhu

Mr. Struble

Tracy Zhu, Staff Writer

As the 2022 – 2023 year starts in Clearfield Area Junior-Senior High School, there are many updates. It is the first year without mask mandates, and school is starting to back to how it was before COVID. For more details, let us hear from Mr. Struble, the superintendent of our school district.

Q: What are your duties as a superintendent, for those who do not know?

Mr. Struble: “As superintendent, basically all the operations of the school fall under that, so I take care of transportation, snow delays, staff hiring, curriculum decisions, and finances. All of it comes to one point of where the superintendent has some contact with all of the different administrators that are responsible for making sure things run smoothly every day.”

Q: Is there something you are especially proud of during your time as superintendent?

Mr. Struble: “I think the fact that we keep finding ways to provide opportunities for all of our kids is something to be proud of. We have not had to trim programs, we still managed to offer things when other schools have had to make cuts or eliminate those things, and we have also added programs along the way to try to help kids who struggle and provide them with new resources so that they can become successful. Throughout the pandemic, we managed to go completely 1:1 and make that shift pretty much in an instant as well.”

Q: In what ways does this school district stand out?

Mr. Struble: “I think one of the things that make us stand out is we have, district-wide, almost 70 percent economically disadvantaged students, and a fourth of our students are IEP students that have a special need of some kind, yet we still provide them with what we hope are some of the best facilities. We still provide them with opportunities whether it is on the stage, on the field, or with their clubs and activities, such as the opportunity for juniors to go to Niagara Falls. I think what helps us stand out is we still try to provide as many opportunities as possible so that every student can hopefully find something they connect to at school.

Q: What do you think this school year will be like?

Mr. Struble: “Well, for us, the biggest part this post pandemic year has been trying to start normal. We thought last year was going to be a try-to-start-normal, but the pandemic still had its control over things. We had the governor’s mask mandate to work through, and we still, for a period of time, had contact tracing. It was just really hard to get that traction as to what a normal school year is like. This year finally feels like a normal school year: attendance is better, the number of COVID cases is down…and we can have events, like the homecoming dance, without thoughts of, ‘Is this going to turn into a super spreader event?’ I think, for us, our goal for this year is, ‘Can we make it as normal as possible and get back to setting our foundation so that we can get to all the good things we were doing before the pandemic hit?’

Q: What are the major changes one can expect this year?

Mr. Struble: “From an adult view, we have set the bar of wanting to get back to normal, so as far as making other changes on top of that, we did not do a whole lot of that. Teachers needed a chance to work back into what normal looks like in the classroom. I do not think we added a whole lot into the ‘What’s New?’ category as much as what can we do to keep moving forward. At the same time, we also want to learn from what we experienced along the way. We know kids in the high school level can work virtually, so there is not a problem with using Teams. It is easy for you guys to drop assignments to teachers, it is easy for you to chat with them, and there are teachers who message back. We do not want to lose what we learned along the way, but at the same time, we do not want to just change something to get back where we were.”

Q: How do you think technology has positively impacted learning?

Mr. Struble: “Let’s look at it as a tool. It allows you to write that paper and just submit it. It allows you to be in groups and work remotely on group assignments. You can chat online, and you can do things that do not tie you to the normal classroom…I think technology has opened up that ability to be a lot more flexible, but at the same time, we still need to think about what we are reading online, and we still need to prioritize human contact because it becomes really easy to just sit behind a screen sometimes. In person, it can be really hard to interact with peers, especially if there are disagreeing views. Online, it is easy to just type a comment; you do not see the other person getting upset, and you do not know how to say, ‘Oh, I need to back off from that.’ There needs to be a balance point. Let’s use technology as the tool that helps us, but let’s not lose that human aspect of learning how to interact with one another, help one another, and guide one another, especially when that is the appropriate thing we need to be doing.”

Q: Is there anything you wish for of the students at this school?

Mr. Struble: “I wish that we learn what community is and that we find those ways to interact with one another and support one another. It is very easy right now to find examples of adults who believe the only way to get forward is by tearing other adults down. I wish for our students to see the better path: we all have to live together, we are all neighbors, and as a result, we need to find ways to work with one another. Be accepting. That doesn’t mean I have to approve of what you do…but I do need to know how to work with you and develop the sense of community that comes along with being together as a school. I guess that is my hope for our students because then, they will become good citizens. Once you move out of the school setting, and we have to turn this crazy world over to you guys, you will know how to interact with one another and help one another along the way.”

Q: Any words of encouragement for students who may be struggling?

Mr. Struble: “It is your work ethic that is going to make the difference. You do not have to be the straight A student, you do not have to be the stellar athlete, you do not have to be the best person in band or choir, but what you do need to do to be successful in life is to work hard. I would encourage students who are struggling to continue to work hard. Even though the reward might not be there right now, or you feel that there is no reward, having a work habit or routine to fall back on will open up doors when you need them to open later in life.”

Q: Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

Mr. Struble: “Have a great year and make the best of what it provides you!”