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A Letter to the NFHS

A Letter from CEA Cynthia Jones

As we begin a new academic year, I want to take a moment to address concerns in the school community relative to Niagara Falls High School. I have recently been appointed Chief Educational Administrator, following Mr. Bradley’s retirement. In past days, rumors are swirling about changes to dress code, behavior, and any number of things. Let me address these rumors, which in many cases are based on misinformation.

First, let me state that I am eager to welcome students and staff to a supportive, safe, and academically rich environment. I enjoy young people and have devoted my career to helping them achieve success. I will continue to devote myself to that pursuit.

With respect to the student appearance code at NFHS, I have not instituted any change; I have merely stated that we will observe the Student Appearance Code found in the Code of Conduct. This Code of Conduct is a Board of Education-adopted, Districtwide document which covers all schools. 

I do believe proper footwear is a safety concern, appropriately modest clothing – for male and female students--is most fitting to the dignity of education and the student, and that under garments should be worn as intended—underneath outer clothing.

Beyond that, students are free to have their own style, and embrace whatever fashion trend moves them, so long as it adheres to the Student Appearance Code.

Another concern being expressed revolves around food and drink. Let me clear that this is an issue tied to tardiness. I have witnessed many students arriving at NFHS well past the time classes have begun, with hot cups of coffee and breakfast sandwiches in hand. We offer free breakfast every day to all students. Tardy students lose valuable instructional time and disrupt classrooms when they enter late. It is unfair to those students who do arrive on time to be interrupted in their work, while another student arranges his meal on his desk. No one has to go hungry; we have food here. Avail yourself of it. If a student needs to remain hydrated during the day, vending machines are available with beverages that one may choose to purchase. Free beverages are available in the cafeteria at meal times.

Many taxpayers would be surprised to learn that a number of students text or call parents/guardians to deliver fast food to them during the school day. This will not be allowed. Not only is this taking attention away from instruction, it also takes the safety officers off task, as they deal with pizza delivery parents. Our Resource Officers have an important job to do relative to the safety of everyone in the building. Parents and guardians should understand that a student’s hankering for fast food is not more important than the safety of the more than 2,000 people in the building daily.

Another safety concern, and one which is addressed in the Parent - Student Handbook, pertains to book bags. For reasons that are sadly obvious in this day and age, book bags will be kept in lockers during the day. This is not my invention; it a policy I inherited and which was requested by staff and the Building Committee prior to this time. It makes sense and I will respect this practice.

The ultimate goal of these practices and policies is a safe and orderly environment, with minimal distractions to the process of teaching and learning.

Students in high school are nearing the time when they will be expected to enter the adult world. I will not insult them by supposing they are too immature to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. Our students are just as capable as those from any other district and I will do them the favor of setting expectations that they conduct themselves with respect and maturity, able to follow the same rules of society that millions of adults do every day.

That being said, I am excited to begin my time at NFHS and look forward to interacting with these wonderful young people every day and getting to know them as individuals. My request is that they also get to know me as their instructional leader.

As is often the case where rumors are concerned, the truth isn’t nearly as bad what you heard. I promise that I am a reasonable, concerned adult who will show up on time every day with your best interest in heart. All I ask is that you do, too!