HCISD aims to improve student involvement in school activities

After a recent survey showed 36 percent of 8,256 Hays CISD secondary students don’t participate in school activities, officials now seek to promote extracurricular involvement in an effort to improve safety and health.

Officials ultimately aim to have 100 percent of Hays CISD students connected to each other and their schools through an activity. Being involved gives them an opportunity to learn social and emotional skills, according to the district. Increased involvement in school helps create a safer environment.

The district created the survey soon after the hiring of Superintendent Eric Wright in January 2018. District officials pressed to complete the survey following mass shootings at Parkland, Florida and Santa Fe, Texas in spring 2018.

The survey asked students how safe they feel on campus and if they trust their faculty and staff. It also measured whether students took part in extracurricular activities or clubs.

Results revealed the majority of students felt they have an adult on campus they can trust. However, 28 to 43 percent of respondents at various schools did not feel as if they had an adult they could trust on campus.

Wright said his goal is to solidify safety through all schools by focusing on facility improvements and student involvement. Research shows students who are more connected to their school, friends and community have better grades, higher attendance and healthier lives. Using this knowledge, officials are promoting student involvement as a way to foster a healthier and safer environment.

An estimated 83 percent of students across all middle and high schools have been surveyed. The goal is to survey all 100 percent. Current results were released to the school board Oct. 29; officials said they plan to initiate more activity options by spring 2019.

Hays CISD Chief Communication Officer Tim Savoy said students perform better in school when they are active in organizations and feel safer when they have a trusted mentor.

“We’ll talk to the students who aren’t involved and see what groups and organizations we can create that will appeal to them,” Savoy said. “We see a lot of cases across the nation of students acting out because they feel alone and they go unnoticed. We’re working toward ensuring that all students have someone they can talk to if they aren’t doing well, or if they need to report something wrong.”

Principals across the district will utilize the survey results as well, by pairing students with teachers, counselors and other staff members who they feel bond well with students.

“Our students perform better when they’re here more and they want to be here more when they feel welcome and involved,” said Sarah Hodges, principal at Wallace Middle School. “We can work on keeping out outside threats, but we also want to focus on caring for those within the school.”

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