Pizza with the Principal


Sydney Haulenbeek

N’Kosi-Sanai Poole (left), Principal Melissa George (center), and Jada Jones (right) talk about school spirit and Monday Morning Meetings in the EBA space on October 3 during lunch.

On Thursday, October 3, Principal Melissa George tried a new strategy for getting student opinion: she invited students to have pizza with her and talk about Kempsville. 


In the past, George met with the Principal Student Advisory Council every month, which consisted of a group of ten or fifteen students who would represent the student body in administrative decision making. This year, however, she has made the change to receive “more voice from more students” by inviting a variety of students to come and chat with her. 


“I can’t impact any type of change in the building if you don’t tell me things that you want to be changed,” George said to students, “and how you really feel about Kempsville: the good, the bad, and the ugly.”


After introductions, George opened the discussion with questions to students, asking them what they thought were the things that Kempsvile did well, with student response focusing mostly on increased school spirit, such as the marching band performing in the halls during the days on which the football team plays. She also asked students what unchangeable elements of Kempsville they disliked. Monday Morning Meetings were a resounding factor that the students were frustrated with, and several students pointed out that they felt that the Monday Morning Meeting lessons were irrelevant.


Chase Brophy, senior, said that he wished his meetings were more productive.


“Some of the classes are just seniors, so it would be more productive to do college stuff, or real-world situations,” he said. 


Another student, Jada Jones, who is one of the four Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council members that will be present at every meeting, felt that a problem students often encounter is an unwillingness to change that resounds through students and staff at Kempsville. 


“Even though…I really love the tradition here at Kempsville I feel like we fall into stagnancy a lot,”  she said. “We tend to do the same thing over and over again – like the same events – and we don’t even try to change or do different things, in some instances. It takes someone to actually enforce change and spend a lot of effort to change something.”


Students also suggested that school spirit would be better encouraged if pep rallies were earlier in the day, around third block, so that they would get to have lunch after the rally. 


“When you’re a senior or junior and you have early release, you don’t want to stay for a pep rally,” said Morgan Harwood, pointing out participation problems that the Senior class council has been struggling with as Homecoming approaches. “I’ve been a class officer since freshman year, and it’s really hard to find people who want to be a part of that type of thing, [and] who want to embark change.”


Interest was also expressed in more interactive classes, with students wanting teachers to take advantage of their environment and bring them into the courtyard or take them to the library or to the hall to write on the whiteboards.


Brophy said that students struggle to focus when they spend the entire class taking notes and doing nothing else, which he feels ultimately defeats the point.


“Some teachers think that [breaks are] a waste of time, but they’re wasting more time if we’re not focused,” Brophy said. “A little bit of time that you might take out to take a brain break – a three-minute, five-minute brain break – better to lose that five minutes than lose your students through a whole PowerPoint.”


N’Kosi-Sanai Poole, senior, also pitched the idea of changing classes to a 50 or 55 minute class, eight classes a day schedule.


“I’ve thought about it, and I’d rather have all my classes every day,” she said. “You’re just there for a little under an hour, and then you wouldn’t have as much homework.”


“There are some middle schools that have changed back to traditional blocks,” George said, saying that some teachers had expressed interest in the idea to her as well.  


Meetings will be monthly, and George asked that students who were interested in participating to pass on their names to her if they wanted to attend.