By Marina Renton                        

Andover High School’s new principal, Dr. Lord, sees a bright future for the school, and is seeking to build school spirit to start the new year off right.

Dr. Lord looks forward to the coming year. Photo by Marina Renton.

“Stand by, something extraordinary is going to happen here,” he said.

School Spirit

Dr. Lord looks to build school spirit this year. From “I Love AHS” buttons to a school song, he hopes for a year filled with positive energy.

“I think what we do most for school spirit is to show one another that we’re a compassionate, caring community,” he said. “This is a wonderful place; I’ve been very impressed with what it’s capable of.”

Still, he recognizes that last year was difficult for students and faculty alike due to the teacher contract talks, and he hopes that this year will turn things around.

“I want kids and teachers to be excited about coming here every day,” he said. “I want everyone to want to be here.”

Policy Changes

Despite the rumors, Dr. Lord said there will be no changes to the AHS dress code; rather, the existing one will be strictly enforced. The same goes for the cell phone policy although he hopes eventually to integrate cell phones into the classroom.

“Cell phones are going to be part of your life,” he said. “We need to start getting into the 21st century and using this tool responsibly. But, we’re going to honor the existing policy and expect ‘off and away all day’ initially.”

“Take a look at the handbook,” he advised. “Twenty percent of the handbook has been redone. There are new discipline codes in there, there are new policies in there with respect to hazing, bullying, harassment; there are very strict guidelines for the consequences of those kinds of behaviors.”

AHS will also have a new resource officer this year. This officer, who is a uniformed police officer especially trained for working in schools, makes AHS compliant with federal regulations regarding security. According to Dr. Lord, there will also be 10 monitors stationed throughout the school who will be taking over the duties that teachers won’t be doing this year due to the new 3×3 schedule.

“[The resource officer’s main concerns] are the big four: theft, controlled substances, weapons, and violence. Those are the things that he will be intimately involved with,” said Dr. Lord.

Dr. Lord feels strongly about these issues as well.  “I won’t tolerate breaches of moral and ethical conduct,” he said. “Theft, drugs, weapons, violence, you’re done…[students] are representing themselves, their families, their school community at all times.”

Another change this year is that all the doors (except one of the front doors) will be locked at 7:45 a.m. Any student who is not in class by that time will have to sign in at the new permanent “tardy table” by the front doors.

“The tardy policy is in place; nothing’s changed there,” said Dr. Lord.

NEASC Audit

“The NEASC audit is critical for the transcripts for the students,” he said. “It’s a big deal, and we need to take it very seriously.”

The accreditation team is coming to audit AHS at the end of October. “The entire learning community is invited to the Collins Center on Sunday, October 28, from 1 to 2 p.m.,” said Dr. Lord. “That’s when [the steering committee will] put on a one-hour presentation of what Andover High’s all about to the visiting team. And there’s a reception from 3-5 on the same day.”

The Principal Wants to Be Your Pal

Dr. Lord’s favorite thing about AHS so far?

“The people. The more people I meet, the more excited I am about being here,” he said. “The staff is just brilliant. Really intelligent people, committed, caring, competent.”

He hopes to continue to build relationships with staff, students, and the community.

“I want to get to know people,” he said. “I’ve probably met about 600 or 700 people so far – staff, faculty, community members. These parent meetings at night have been really fun.”

Dr. Lord says he has an open-door policy, “Come see me about whatever…. You can email me if you like,” he said.

Dr. Lord also hopes to be present at games and performances.

“I like watching other people do their thing,” he said. “[I will try to see] every sport at least once.”

Focus on the Future

Dr. Lord hopes for a new year to bring a reinvigorated school ready to move on from the trials of last year.

“The history is now done,” he said. “You can close that chapter and move forward…This can be an incredible school.”

He also looks to create a long-term plan for AHS.

“There’s already a district strategic plan in place,” he assured. “So whatever we come up with marries with the district strategic plan, it marries with the NEASC recommendations…and it paints a portrait of what our school will look like in the future.”

Regarding academic performance, Dr. Lord is optimistic and enthusiastic.

“The sky’s the limit,” he said. “I think that this culture is capable of meeting the NEASC standards and of exceeding them. I think this culture is capable of meeting the requirements of the No Child Left Behind act, the teacher evaluation system, and exceeding them.”