Starting several weeks ago, students on their way to the cafeteria found something new. Located on the center wall of the cafeteria - a collection of scattered flyers.
The bulletin board is covered in custom posters with information regarding nearly every club in the school, and business teacher, Mr. Scalise, believes that it is a solution to the issue of communicating club information.
“I just thought that it was strange that we just have all this wall space, in a place like the cafeteria, where everyone goes… and I thought it was a way to improve the school, basically.”
Mr. Scalise hopes that the bulletin board will be a source of information for students looking to participate in extracurricular activities.
One facet of communication that the school has struggled with, according to Scalise, is the ability to inform students of extracurricular clubs. Scalise found the school’s website to be “somewhat outdated and not user friendly.” Because of this, he decided to take action.
“I have an intuitive feeling that about a third of our students are just not involved… [and] I think that school involvement is important.”
Here at McMahon, the administration attempts to reach students and staff through several methods of communication, rather than focus on one central form of messaging. According to Principal Scott Hurwitz, school announcements, made both in the cafeteria and during second block are the main ways to communicate events, accolades, and other general information.
“Occasionally, we’ll send emails to the whole student body, important information, links, or things like that… sometimes there are posters on the wall… We think that maybe emailing students is good, just because they are on google classroom... so they might be checking their email,” said Hurwitz.
Despite the attempts by the school to disseminate information, students, such as senior Jeff Thiersaint (‘19), who do listen to the morning announcements, still struggle to provide advice for where to get information. “Probably announcements, or… word of mouth… it is kinda hard [to get information]... if it is something really important, maybe I’ll listen.”
When discussing possible solutions, Thiersaint acknowledges that “[School] Emails are not gonna work, nobody logs in…” and that if he was in charge of the school, he would “have some type of phone number mass message system… like once a week, on a Monday.”
Junior, Tatyanna Kelly believes that an older form of communication would be sufficient. “I think flyers would be a really good way to get people aware of things… they would at least be inclined to read what is handed to them.”
Students are not the only ones with ideas regarding ways to improve communication. Both Mr. Scalise and Mr. Hurwitz think that electric signs around the school would be a potential solution.
“We had this at Stamford High in the 80s,” said Scalise, “Everybody goes in the cafeteria, and if you have 20 announcements, you type them in, and they keep going across.”
Ultimately, Mr. Scalise believes that the school’s communication has to be centralized. “If we have five different ways to communicate with students, kids are going to figure out that not all the information is there, and they’re gonna be frustrated, where as if you pick one way… every single kid, and every single adult knows…”
Although social studies teacher Daniel Wagenberg agrees that the communication could be improved with electronic signs, he believes the school is correct in its approach of having multiple forms of communication. “They do everything else that’s possible, and I don’t know how they can improve on that,” Wagenberg acknowledged, disagreeing with Mr. Scalise’s idea to put all communicated information in one place.
Whether you are a student, staff member or administrator, it is clear that there are concerns among all regarding the effectiveness of the communication.
When asked if the communication as it currently stands is sufficient, Mr. Hurwitz said that “I don’t know… There are just so many different forms of communication that you never know what will hit the mark. I also know this, we don’t have one person in the school whose job it is to communicate with kids, so I think we do our best with what we have.”