Lawrence High School challenges top students while helping those who are struggling, the principal said.
Lawrence High School Principal Brad Tate isn't one to stick his head in the sand and say the school doesn't have any problems.
But he wants people to know that the positives far outweigh the negatives.
"Ninety-five percent of the time, 95 percent of those kids are really great," Tate said.
And when the problems of society accompany students through the school doors, "we work our fannies off to make sure they don't interrupt what we're there for."
Tate spoke to the Rotary Club Monday at the Eldridge Hotel, 701 Mass.
Tate said that when he came to the school 24 years ago, it had two physics teachers. Now it has five.
The number of chemistry teachers has doubled from two to four, and the number of Latin classes has grown from three to seven.
And none of those increases have to do with enrollment growth, since the school's enrollment was slightly higher 24 years ago.
"What I'm trying to say is kids are taking difficult subjects," Tate said.
He said the dedication of LHS students also is shown by:
- Students getting involved in jazz practice and drawing classes after school even though they earn no credit.
- The 19 LHS students who were named semifinalists last fall in the National Merit Scholarship Program. LHS had 13.8 percent of all Kansas semifinalists.
- The LHS Scholars' Bowl Team that took first in the state this spring.
For students who have trouble concentrating on academics, the school offers many forms of assistance.
Tate said the LHS Care Team of teachers, counselors and administrators look into the individual needs of students based on teacher and student referrals.
The school has counseling groups for students trying to end substance abuse. And Tate provided one-on-one guidance to a student who had been adjudicated in the courts but was trying to get his life back on track.
Anyone concerned about the many resources devoted to troubled students should consider what happens when students drop out, Tate said.
"We know we're going to pay a lot more if we lose them."