ECHS may be at crossroads
Jerry Smith is smiling more these days.
Perhaps his job as Escambia County High School principal feels like a better fit as he prepares for the new school year. It was an uneasy mantle last year as Smith became the fifth principal in five years. Everyone was looking for continuity and discipline and direction.
Smith stepped into a less than desirable situation. ECHS was already in the alert status due to low SAT scores. There were rumors of students leaving in droves for other schools.
A number of students did leave. There's no denying that fact. But there are signs that some will be coming back this year.
We can't quite put our finger on it, but we have a good feeling about Escambia County High School this year.
Maybe it has something to do with the NJROTC program. The enthusiasm of Commander Robert Salley and Chief Danny Smart is contagious. We hope students embrace this opportunity. So far, 85 students have. This could be the turning point for many of these young men and women.
This year won't be without its challenges. SAT scores were too low to bring the school out of alert status. But that may change this year since sophomore and juniors will take the high school graduation exam rather than the SAT. The only consequence for low SAT scores was the low standing in the county, and that didn't seem to matter to some students at the high school. But the graduation exam is different. If students don't pass it, they don't graduate. They don't walk across the stage with their classmates. In this case, there are consequences.
We expect SAT scores to be higher this year. We expect students to blow the high school graduation exam out of the water. We expect the NJROTC program to bring a new sense of pride.
We sense a renewed school spirit. It feels like Escambia County High School is coming back. We're turning the corner.
Maybe it's something in Jerry Smith's smile.