A new policy at Letcher County Central High School is keeping students in classrooms and out of hallways and bathrooms during instructional time.
Looking for a way to establish a strong culture for learning at the beginning of each class period, LCCHS administrators implemented the 10/10 rule. Students aren’t allowed to leave classrooms during the first 10 minutes and last 10 minutes of each class period.
“Every second out of class students are losing out on learning,” said LCCHS Principal Gracie Maggard.
The first 10 minutes of class set the tone for the lesson and teachers assess learning during the last 10 minutes of the period, she said.
“If you don’t get them engaged in the first three minutes, you aren’t going to get them,” said Maggard. “If you can get them from the beginning and capture (their attention) from bell to bell, that is half the battle.”
She said once students become interested in a lesson, they often don’t ask to leave class and wait until the bell rings.
“If the learning has increased, the grades will follow,” said Maggard
Maggard said teachers make exceptions for kidney infections or other special circumstances.
Teachers have told Maggard that they have struggled to get students in class on time and the new policy has been the best solution. Maggard said she hasn’t faced opposition from teachers or students over the policy.
“They have gotten on board,” she said. “I can’t praise the staff enough.”
Maggard and assistant principals are often seen in the school hallways between classes and during instructional time.
Maggard has noticed a decrease in discipline situations.
“You keep them where they are supposed to be and they’re not drumming up trouble,” she said.
In addition to increasing instructional focus and decreasing discipline problems, Maggard said the number of students who smoke cigarettes in school bathrooms has dramatically dropped.
“It’s because everyone is working together,” she said.
After Maggard was hired as the new high school principal this summer, she spoke with several students asking them what they thought needed changing at LCCHS. At least 25 teenagers mentioned wanting smoking in school bathrooms to stop.
School administrators have tried for years to tackle the smoking problem at LCCHS. Staff monitored bathrooms in between classes, but smoking mostly occurred during class time.
Before this school year started, Asst. Principal Scott Billiter mentioned the 10/10 rule that he had observed at another school.
Maggard also had specialized detectors installed in the bathrooms that send an assistant principal text notifications when someone is smoking in one of the six high school bathrooms. No one was caught smoking Tuesday, Maggard said, and one person received in-school suspension for smoking on Monday.
Maggard said one student told her that she smoked five or six times during each school day last year. Maggard said she and other staff members are trying to help students deal with stress without smoking. Students struggling with not smoking during the school day have asked Maggard for bubble gum or chocolate. She has even walked around the building with students in an attempt to get their minds off of cigarettes.
Jennifer Honeycutt, Family Resource and Youth Services Center (FRYSC) coordinator, is taking smoking cessation training to gather resources to help students who are interested in quitting smoking cigarettes.
Maggard said she tells students who smoke that their decisions not only affect them but others around them. Asthmatic students have trouble breathing near cigarette smoke. Some students avoided using school bathrooms because of the smoke.
“It’s not about busting them,” said Maggard. “We need to keep the air clean.”
Maggard is in the process of purchasing new toilet seats to replace ones covered in cigarette burns.
“It may stop working and students may start smoking again,” said Maggard. “We’ll have to try something else.”