“The New Norms” reflect standards at NCHS

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Leigh Charlton, Reporter
@leighcourant

Recently, NCHS connections teachers asked their classes to brainstorm and record ten behavioral norms that each member of the high school community should adhere to. These sheets were collected and delivered in an enormous stack to the Student Life committee, who then consolidated the content into one list of the most popular ideas. This would later become the glossy, red-and-white “New Norms” poster that adorns the walls of most NCHS classrooms.

Principal Egan reflects on the "Norms." "The last one is about having a positive attitude,” Mr. Egan said. “I think that that is something that adults forget. Having a positive attitude all the time is something that sometimes we all have to work toward. Life should be fun. It is hard, it is stressful, but it should be fun, and I want to make sure that people will reflect on that.”

Principal Egan reflects on the “Norms.” “The last one is about having a positive attitude,” Mr. Egan said. “I think that that is something that adults forget. Having a positive attitude all the time is something that sometimes we all have to work toward.” Photo by Sofia Paloka.

Assistant Principal Larry Sullivan notes that the “New Norms” were created by students and staff members. “These “New Norms” came out of some work that a committee of teachers, students and student support personnel did,” Mr. Sullivan said. “They took these hundred-plus lists and then looked for commonalities. They then tried to consolidate what they saw as what was most consistent across the building.”

The “Norms” vary in subject from respect to school spirit to positivity. “To me, I think that it is a reflection in pride of who we are,” Mr. Sullivan said. “This is what it means to be a member of this community. This is the standard to which we do hold ourselves, as people who work and collaborate together at New Canaan High School.”

According to school psychologist Sandra Warkentin, with “New Norms” come new hopes. “My hope is that teachers will have them posted in their classroom and that they will reference them and take them seriously,” Ms. Warkentin said. “I hope that this will cause kids to think before they are tempted to make bad choices.”

Mr. Egan smiles next to one of the larger "New Norms" posters by the spiral staircase. Photo by Sofia Paloka.

Mr. Egan hopes that the student community will interpret the “New Norms” as an opportunity to reflect on their behavior. Photo by Sofia Paloka.

Social worker and student life committee member Rachel Alpert hopes that the “New Norms” will be a catalyst for a positive change in the student’s behavior. “My hope would be that students would encourage each other to follow the Norms,” Ms. Alpert said. “If they see one of the Norms being violated, I hope that they would speak up.”

Principal Bill Egan feels confident about the school’s capacity to adhere to these new standards. “I don’t think that they are an ideal,” Mr. Egan said. “I think it is the way that people treat each other on a day-to-day in this school. Truthfully, I can say that I see kids being kind to each other daily. While it may seem like an ideal, it is really the way that we act on a daily basis. It reflects our core values.”

The Norms are arranged in no particular order, though the position of the last item resonates with the principal. “I would say one thing about the order that I do like- maybe it was coincidental- is the fact that the last one is about having a positive attitude,” Mr. Egan said. “I think that that is something that adults forget. Having a positive attitude all the time is something that sometimes we all have to work toward. Life should be fun. It is hard, it is stressful, but it should be fun, and I want to make sure that people will reflect on that.

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About Author

Hi, I'm Leigh. I'm a news editor at the Courant and a junior at the high school. Follow me on Twitter- @leighcourant.

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