Each semester, the Student Government Association holds an open forum, usually with Upper School Principal Mrs. Elise Blum and Academy Principal Mrs. Lana Buchalter, in order to offer students a chance to voice concerns, ask questions and offer suggestions for changes they want to see on campus. For the most recent open forum held Nov. 29, in addition to the principals, Dean Dean Nolle joined the forum to help answer students’ questions. For a recap of everything asked and answered, see below.
*EB = Mrs. Elise Blum *DN = Dean Dean Nolle *LB = Mrs. Lana Buchalter
Q: Why the clear gift bag policy? Won’t that intrude on Secret Santas?
EB: We don’t want to end up in a mistaken lockdown which can be caused by a non-clear bag, including gifts. It’s probably best to do friend gift exchanges out of school and to give gifts to teachers through the office.
Q: How are we going to improve school spirit?
EB: It’s a lot better than used to be, but we’ve now added class advisors and have tried to add things for more spirit. We really look to you guys for more school spirit. It’s just tough here when we’re not central to a community when people have several things after school or live far away. I think we do have school spirit in a weird way; it’s just not your typical school spirit.
DN: We try to keep everyone here after school because people live far away, and if they leave, they’re not coming back. It’s hard now to include all the grades in one area for a pep rally because of a lack of space. When the gym is done and we can seat 2,000 kids, we can have a real pep rally.
Q: Why were two exemptions taken away from juniors?
EB: Boca has one junior exemption,, and we have to be the same as Boca. The reprieve we were given was for the junior class that felt gypped because they never were able to park on campus. We grandfathered it in until the incoming freshmen which are today’s junior class. Also, there’s a rumor going around that we’re taking away the senior class exemptions: that is not true, we don’t hate the class of 2020. *laughter*
Q: Can we have class-wide field trips?
EB: That would be nearly impossible. We do that for the senior class with grad bash, but we’d need like 30 teachers to chaperone this.
DN: Basically, to take the whole grade on a field trip, the whole school would have to shut down for the time.
LB: Most places can’t accommodate that many students at one time because they have other schools coming.
Q: Is there an alternative to the remote lot?
DN: There is no alternative being looked at for the remote lot. Unfortunately, we don’t have space and are never going to have the church back across the street. That’s a city thing, not a church and Heritage thing since they don’t want such a backup on Broward.
Q: The same way seniors have a picnic and freshmen have a mixer, would we be able to get something like that for sophomores?
EB: Yes, we need something for sophomores and for juniors. I know Mrs. Behar had an idea to take sophomores to an action adventure park but our attorney shot that down, so that’s not happening, but we do need to do some other things, so we’re open to that. That’s definitely something Student Government could handle.
Q: I see that the cafeteria is wasteful when it comes to forks and other utensils because normally everything comes in the packets, and, most of the time, people don’t use everything that comes in the packet.
DN: That’s a good point, and if you look at the quality of the non-packeted plastic forks and knives, it’s usually better. It’s likely a cost thing. We used to have individual dispensers, but it’s something we can ask about.
Q: Will recycling bins be added again?
EB: We don’t need recycling bins. We pay a company and they take all of our trash and pull out the plastic, everything. We pay about $10,000 a year for it. The important thing is to not have food with the garbage; there has to be less than a certain percentage of it. I didn’t believe it at first, but they showed me a video of it and they really do separate the recyclables.
Q: Is there somewhere online we can see all of the food and lunch options?
EB: Yes, if you go onto the high school portal page, there is a link to all the different food items from the menu and outside vendors.
Q: Why do we have school on Election Day?
EB: The only reason schools are closed on Election Day is if elections are taking place at the schools, so we have no reason to close.
Q: Speaking of which, why is there school on Veterans’ Day?
DN: I don’t know the history, but I believe Mr. Laurie is of the thought that what better way to honor the veterans by continuing to go to school and to learn, because let’s face it, what are you going to do on Veterans’ Day?
EB: We have groups that do things on Veterans’ Day, like chorus who goes out and sings. Also, it’s the sheer number of days of school. If we had Veterans’ Day off, we’d have to add a day somewhere.
Q: What happened to Dessert Fest?
EB: The PTO opted to cancel Dessert Fest because there’s too many of you and it was just madness. And then the cafeteria had to close certain lines and people couldn’t get food. I don’t know if you remember but they held a popsicle booth for you guys last year, so they’re going to be doing smaller things like that.
LB: It was a big waste of food because they would over-buy and couldn’t donate any of it, so that was another factor.
Q: What’s the new cafeteria going to be like?
EB: There will be much more room to do things. There’s going to be two floors with much more room to have activities, the second floor is going to be available after school with study space and more rooms to be in.
Q: Every winter, there are a few super cold days, so is there a certain temperature we can expect to be able to wear winter clothes?
DN: We are trying to be less flexible with the dress code and non-Heritage outerwear.
EB: A Heritage jacket or sweatshirt should be more than enough.
DN: A long-sleeve shirt and a jacket should cover it. It might be cold in the morning, but once it hits 11:00 a.m. the weather becomes perfect. If need be, we’ll send out a notice.
EB: There’s not a set temperature, but we evaluate it accordingly.
Q: Have you considered creating specific test days for Advanced Placement (AP) classes?
EB: We’re considering doing that because so many kids are taking multiple AP classes now, and I think it’s the best thing for them. Right now, AP classes are exempt from required test days, so I think we’re going to change it to the normal subject test days in the future. There will be minor exceptions because, for example, some AP history teachers give a multiple choice one day and Free Response Question (FRQ) the next, and we’d still allow that.
Q: Are there test limits after breaks?
EB: There are not supposed to be tests after breaks or holidays, but AP classes are exempt.
Q: Why isn’t there a day off for Diwali?
EB: We’d give students a day off for things like that if they call in and we’d excuse them for the day. We follow Broward County in what they do for pretty much everything except Veterans’ Day and Election Day.
Q: Could we get I.D. scanners at the snack bar behind the 3000?
EB: That’s not owned by the school; it’s an outside vendor. The scanner is connected to the I.D., so scanner money goes to the school. But since it’s an outside vendor, that’s not a possibility. If we were to take it over and have scanners, then that snack bar wouldn’t have the same food.
Q: I know Dr. Sharma (now retired) used to control the I.D. scanners for clubs, so is someone going to take that over?
EB: Yeah, we’re looking to hire someone for that. It’s hard to find somebody, but we have someone in mind.
Q: I heard some students ask if it’s possible to have Starbucks or a coffee vendor. Is it?
EB: I don’t think they’d want to be here. For what it’s worth, I know that one of the things Dr. Laurie said they’re building in the new building is a coffee shop.
Q: Is it possible to bring back the Kitchen cookies?
EB: She doesn’t make the cookies anymore?! We don’t oversee the Kitchen so I didn’t realize that. First of all, if you guys tell Theresa when you see her to bring the cookies back and if there were enough people, she probably would. But we’ll tell her you guys want cookies; I didn’t know she stopped making them.
Q: Is there going to be more places to eat on campus anytime soon?
DN: Next to the tennis courts where the basketball courts are to where the robotics tent is, there’s going to be a multi-level cafeteria and sitting space.
EB: Also, tables like the ones we just added next to the quad will be added all around to make an outside eating area.
Q: Will there be any club businesses like the old Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) school store?
EB: FBLA dropped the ball on that selling window, so Theresa took it over and is really making money.
Q: Some students wanted to know if vending machines could have I.D. scanners on them. Can they?
DN: Those are outside vendors; we don’t own those and wouldn’t want to take ownership of that. We asked after our last open forum, but they’d have to set up an accounting system for that. It’s too complicated.
Q: I usually buy lunch with my I.D. so I don’t see the prices of the food I’m buying. Is there any way to have a standardized list posted somewhere?
EB: Yes, there’s a list on the portal under that same list I talked about earlier, but I’ve been very adamant about getting it posted next to the lines. It’s ridiculous that you don’t know what you’re being charged, and the way our system is, parents don’t see it either since it’s not an itemized list. I can have her post more price lists up.
LB: If we add them to the announcements you guys get, we could add a link.
EB: I could also send a price list to all the students.
Q: Regarding the girls’ pants, the pockets are horrible for a couple of reasons: the pockets have no space to even put your hands in, and when you put your phone in them it sticks out almost halfway. The boys’ pockets are actually over to the side so is there any way to change the girls’ pants?
EB: I brought that to the uniform office before, but I don’t know that there’s much to be done about the pockets.
Q: School runs out of food really quickly by the time lunch is over, leaving many students with limited options. What can be done to fix that?
EB: I didn’t realize that. I’ll walk around and look and see, but I didn’t know that was happening.