Oct. 18, 2004 – The St. Croix Central High School accreditation steering committee is working overtime to insure the school reaccreditation. Over the weekend, several members were working on a self-evaluation report required by Middle States Association, while volunteers and staff were busy sprucing up the campus.
According to Kent Moorhead, CHS principal, the self-evaluation report requires the team to assess student learning, curriculum, student services, facilities, finances, school/community relationships, planning and other criteria.
"Its a comprehensive and intensive document," Moorhead said. The team set a self-imposed deadline of Dec. 1 to complete the report. Once Middle States returns to CHS it will examine the document, conduct a site visit and evaluate the report for inconsistencies and truth. "Middle States will be here the first week of March 2005, we will be ready," Moorhead said.
According to its Web site, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education is a voluntary, non-governmental, peer-based membership association dedicated to educational excellence and improvement through peer-evaluation and accreditation. The accreditation of a learning institution is a testament to its quality of education and commitment to excellence. Accreditation is not free, membership costs over $500 dollars each year, and in addition schools have to pay for site visits based on student population.
Three V.I. high schools are presently struggling to regain the public confidence that accreditation lends to the local and national educational system. (See "CAHS Administration Ready for Reaccreditation Visit").
In November of 2001 Middle States announced that it was pulling the accreditation of Eudora Kean, Central and Charlotte Amalie High Schools after years of warnings. In 2002, after the territory's appeal of the action failed, the Education Department resolved to seek new accreditation for all three schools, as well as the newer Education Complex High School, which had never been accredited. In June 2003 Middle States granted candidacy to CHS and CAHS. Eudora Kean was granted candidacy two months later. (See "Eudora Kean Gains Candidacy For Accreditation").
Moorhead is quick to point out that CHS was the first accredited school on St. Croix. "We were accredited in 1964," said Moorhead. He noted the accreditation process is a long one. "Once you lose it, it takes three to five years to regain accreditation." Moorhead also said, despite the loss of accreditation, "the majority of graduates got into the college of their choice."
Moorhead, a 1974 CHS graduate, is proud of his school. "Our primary strength is our faculty," Moorhead said. "We have a powerful, diverse group of leadership." Moorhead said the school has an excellent media center. "In some cases we have things that UVI doesn't have." Moorhead says the school has five "smart boards." Smart boards are interactive black boards, he explained.
Moorhead knows the school has shortcomings. "Our weakness is in the repair and maintenance of the facility," the principal admits. "It needs to be upgraded, more funds need to be put into the school."
CHS sits on 43 acres, and has 12 buildings, including a gym. The school was built in 1968. The maintenance staff consists of one maintenance engineer, five full-time custodians and one part-time custodian. Moorhead would like to privatize the school's maintenance. "We are including it in the report," he said. In St. Thomas the high schools have contracts for after-hours private maintenance in addition to the daytime department of education staff.
Community involvement in the school can also be improved, Moorhead said. "The community plays a major role in the success of the school," said Moorhead. "All good high schools have community involvement."
Moorhead said the decision to build CHS came from public demand for a larger facility, and CHS has always attempted to serve the educational needs of the community. "We are trying to save a school that is important to our community," he said. "Where are the children going to go if we are not here?" Moorhead said most parents couldn't afford to send their child to private schools.
Previous to the building of CHS, the island's high school students attended the Christiansted High School. Moorhead said educators choose the name Central High School because they wanted to "carry over" the initials of the school, the school colors, maroon and white, and the name of the athletic team: the Caribs.
While the steering committee members were inside laboring over the self-evaluation, volunteers and staff were outside laboring in the heat of the day. Moorhead said there would be a series of clean-up efforts leading up to Middle States' March visit.
Ambrosine Charles was busy sweeping crass cuttings from the walkways. The staff cut the grass using riding lawnmowers and weed eaters. She was one of the few parents who volunteered on Saturday. "I just give back to the school what they gave to my kids," Charles said. Five of her children graduated from CHS and the last one is in 11th grade, she said. "More parents need to come out. You only see them at graduation when they show off their kids."
Students from the Junior ROTC program also came out to spruce up their school Saturday. Sixteen-year-old Bernardo Cruz, 18-year-old Enoch Samuel, 15-year-old Miguel Ramos, 16-year-old Michael Huber, 17-year-old Elizah Hanley and 15-year-old Danielle Christopher cut grass and picked up garbage. The students, who are all planning military and college careers said they were not being compensated for their efforts.
"We just want to do our part to help out," said Hanley.
Four of the students have parents who graduated from CHS. The students say the public should help the school more. They say they have busy schedules too, and parents need to stop complaining about the school and volunteer their time to improve the school.
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