On Wednesday, January 18, 2012, Principal Tom Garrison participated in his second press conference with The Roundup to kick off the new semester. Questions varied from his experience as principal and second semester transitions to planned renovations of the school.
The press conference began with the topic of the start of the new semester, saying that admissions decisions are on the horizon. Garrison said that “there hasn’t been a big change for” him from first semester to second semester. He noted that beginning the Jesuit admissions process for prospective freshmen is the biggest administrative change. “Mr. Host is doing most of that,” Garrison said, “but we’ll be having lots of meetings. We have interviews this weekend and next weekend, and students just took the ISEE. So those are the big changes.”
Garrison went on to discuss scheduling issues, particularly the logic behind extending first semester for two weeks into January. Garrison remembers that, “We used to end [first semester] at Christmas time, and what would happen was a lot of kids would have in-completes because they missed exams for whatever reason. So it was a nuts and bolts issue from an administrative standpoint.”
But, Garrison noted, students stand to benefit the most from the extra week. “We used to have a prevailing feeling around finals season that you take a final and then never see it again,” said Garrison. “But what about the mistakes you made? You never knew what you did wrong and how you could improve. Extending the first semester made sure you all had time to understand what you did right and wrong on assessments. As a student, I’d like to know why I got what I got on my final, and the extra two weeks allows for that.”
When asked about the prospect of a similar extension of the semester in May and June, Garrison recalled the logistical problems of a ‘grade pick-up day.’ “[In past years,] students could pick up their report cards before they went out and then ask teachers any questions they had,” Garrison said. “It didn’t work that way…only five or six kids would show up. If there were another way to do it, I’d definitely be open to it.”
Garrison described the joy and pride he takes in his job as principal and the steps he is taking to make Jesuit’s administration run smoothly. “On a personal level, I’d say time management [is an area I can improve on,]” Garrison said. “I can’t say I’ve learned the answer yet, but I’ve identified the problems. There are so many things going on here every day, and I’d like to be able to experience more of them.”
“I’m going to take full advantage of the new weight room,” Garrison added with a grin.
At the end of the conference, the popular topic of campus renovations came up. Principal Garrison summed up Jesuit’s primary needs in four words: “parking and field space.”
“We need more parking,” Garrison said. “The Bueno Lot is not ideal. I’d like it if you wouldn’t have to cross Inwood. I’d also like to see less jaywalking; there is a crosswalk there, guys!” But, he noted, Jesuit students shouldn’t expect a parking garage any time soon. “To do something that big, we’d have to go to the city with a five-year or ten-year plan for what we want to do with the campus. I don’t think we’ll see construction in the next two years.”
As far as immediate renovations, Garrison envisions a restructured cafeteria with better seating. While plans are currently in the works for cafeteria changes, Garrison expects ground will not be broken for at least 18 months. “We have a tendency at Jesuit to do things quickly,” Garrison said, “but this one is trickier because of the cafeteria’s location on campus. We’re having some sketches drawn by architects, and we are going to spend some time making sure we get it right. It’s probably a bigger job than it originally looked. This is probably a bigger job than we could complete in a couple of months.”
Mr. Garrison had this to say on the prospect of a pool on campus: “I don’t know if we have the square footage for a full-sized pool; it wouldn’t be traditional if there was. We need land. We’re landlocked now. It’s no secret that we tried to buy the apartments to the South of us recently, but it didn’t work.”
In addition, Garrison does not expect the construction of a hockey rink on campus in the near future. “I don’t know if we can have ice on our campus; I’m not sure if any high school has an ice rink. If we did, I would drive the zambonee just to say I did.”
The Roundup would like to thank Principal Garrison for participating in the press conference and offering forthcoming answers.