Arroyo Grande School Site Council Looks to Tackle Challenges Ahead

The SSC discusses a plan to help AGHS recover from the effects of the pandemic during their first meeting. 


The council follows along as Dan Neff describes the challenges faced in regards to learning loss

The Arroyo Grande School Site Council (SSC) had its first meeting on September 27th to discuss obstacles for the upcoming school year. The SSC, is the governing body of the school. On the high school level, it is made up of staff, administrators, teachers, parents and students. 

Principal Dan Neff, in his 5th year on the council, values its ability to bring the perspectives of multiple people to the table.

 “You have student representation, [administration], parent groups, teachers and classified members… giving input on how to guide the school,” Neff said. 

He added that its impact on how the school sets its goals and how they pay for them is crucial to make AGHS a better school both in academic and social aspects. 

The Agenda for the September 27th Meeting (Melih Dookie)

One of the first items on the agenda of the SSC meeting was the election of officers. In keeping with tradition, the council elected the ASB President, Vice President and Secretary as SSC Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary. The symbolic tradition was started many years ago, and was meant to highlight the value AGHS places on student perspectives in making far reaching decisions. 

One of these students is Vice Chair Abigail Ibuna. A senior in her first year on the Council, Ibuna hopes to improve the social wellbeing of students by expanding their opportunities to interact with peers and campus activities. 

“There are new kids who have never experienced high school and I want them to know that they get to be in this environment where they can try new things and be open to them,” Ibuna said.

Another item on the agenda was the review of the past years’ academic achievements. The group discussed the challenge of not having standardized tests to measure academic performance.

 The presentations and data provided concluded that in the previous school year, the gap between students earning F’s and those with A’s was larger than before the pandemic. Additionally, the council noted the higher than usual number of F’s and Credit/No Credit grades,  reflect the national trend of learning loss as a result of the pandemic.

The review also highlighted the fact that despite the pandemic, over 1000 AP exams were taken during the previous school year. Additionally, it displayed that AGHS remains one of the only schools with an AP Capstone program in San Luis Obispo county. 

Breakdown of AP test takers during the 2020/2021 school year (Melih Dookie)

The Council concluded that one of the largest challenges they will face is the recovery in the social and emotional aspect. All stakeholder groups represented on the council found that improving the mental health of those on the AGHS campus was one of the top priorities. 

AGHS Student Advocate Lisa Martinez emphasized that a student must be able to prosper as an individual in order to reach their full potential in the classroom. 

“I think it’s important that we be able to serve students as much as possible so that they can be academically successful in whatever capacity that looks like,” Martinez said. “We have a lot of infrastructure in place for academic support and growth, but I think we need to bring in other [resources for emotional wellbeing] as well.” 

For government teacher Jason Stoddard, serving on the SSC is all about helping people. In his first year on the Council he seeks to reinvigorate the sense of community on our campus. 

“I’m hoping to help the school, the community get back into socializing. I feel like we lost a bit of our ability to be around one another and I’d like to get that sense of community and social activity back,” Stoddard said. 

Parent Ralph Perez hopes that his unique perspective will help the council set and reach its goals as well. 

In his 7th year on the SSC, Perez seeks to combine the perspective of a parent and his professional experience at the Family Care Network to help the school recover.

“I know how important it is for students and faculty … that we provide good mental support during this whole time,” Perez said. 

Looking forward, the SSC will meet numerous times throughout the school year to address the needs of the school.

 “Change has been the only constant in COVID,” Neff said during the meeting. 

As a result, the Council will continue to adapt to the challenges faced throughout the year, no matter the form they present themselves in. They’re working hard to make Arroyo Grande High School a better campus and community for all.