While studies still support the idea that a child is safer in school than they are in a car, the rising rate of acts of violence in school still raises red flags for some. Acts of school violence can occur anywhere and can have many different causes, making them difficult to track and study. So what can schools do to stay safe? For the Holt School District, most doors are locked with security cameras. The school resource officer, Mary Hull, a local deputy, is on-call for the district’s eleven different buildings.
In 2009 Holt Public Schools with the help of the surrounding community and Lansing Community College, wanted to make it possible for students to further their education, even if they didn’t have the financial means. That’s when then-Holt Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Johnny Scott, along with his board members founded the H.O.L.T. scholarship program, with the first scholarships being given out in 2011. H.O.L.T. stands for Helping Others Learn Together. This fund will help children who are at risk of not furthering their education access two years of free tuition at Lansing Community College in exchange for graduating from Holt High School. According to the H.O.L.T Scholarship Program information, a student is eligible based on the U.S. Department of Education’s criteria for at-risk students. The U.S. Department of Education website states that the criteria includes race, whether the student live in a single parent home and whether the student’s family income is on or below the poverty line.
A continuous battle has been raging between parents and Holt Public School administrators over the last two years in what is appropriately being called the “switch.”
The “switch” refers to the creation of a North Campus, which is located across the street from the high school, where only seniors have classes. The intent was for seniors to get a feel for what it would be like to navigate a college campus and to be responsible for getting to class on time. According to Holt Public Schools Superintendent Dr. David Hornak, most students and teachers are in support of the stand-alone North Campus, but it’s the parents who have the most concerns. While students seem to be more concerned about parking issues in the winter and the possibility of having open lunches, parents are most concerned over the safety of their children walking back and forth between campuses. Jennifer Bertram, the mother of two Holt High School graduates, is just one of many parents who has outwardly protested the “switch.”
“We were passionately opposed to the plan laid out by the district…” said Bertram.
Back in the 1970s when Holt Public Schools Superintendent David Hornak went to school, every student was taught the exact same thing the exact same way whether they could understand it or not. “Back when I went to school it was ‘this is the way you’re going to be taught. If you get it, great. If you don’t, that’s your problem,’” Hornak said. “Whatever teachers were instructed to teach is what they taught and they just hoped it stuck with the majority of students.”
Having worked in the Holt Public School District for 22 years now, Hornak shed some light on the program that the district now uses to evaluate each individual student and how they try and meet their needs.
By Aundreana Jones-Poole
Holt Journal Staff Reporter
The Holt School District is giving parents a choice between sending their children to traditional or balanced calendar schools. A balanced calendar still gives students the same 180-day school semester as a traditional calendar, but doesn’t allow students a three-month summer vacation. Instead, it is reduced to eight weeks or less. Breaks of typically two weeks are given to students in the fall, around the holidays in winter, and in the spring. The Holt School District has two balanced calendar elementary schools, Horizon and Sycamore, both kindergarten through fourth grade, but isn’t currently making any initiatives to convert the other nine traditional calendar schools into balanced calendars, according District Superintendent David Hornak.
The Holt Public School District and the community of Holt have a very unique relationship. They share facilities without exchanging money. According to Delhi Township Supervisor C.J. Davis, they are in the 1 percent of communities in the nation that do this. “I dare you to find another community that does this, except for extremely small towns where they don’t have a choice,” Davis said. “The schools and township coordinate as much as possible, we try to work together with no money exchange.”
“If we need the auditorium, they check their schedules and let us have it.