Junior High principal touts plans for school library

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The principal of Pawhuska Junior High School last week offered the Board of Education details about programming developments meant to appeal to students and provide them with learning opportunities.

Principal Chris Walker, who previously was assistant principal for Pawhuska High School, said he thinks it hurt students not to have a separate junior high school. The school district re-established its junior high this school year.

Walker described a vision for making the school library the hub of student activity.

“We want to make our library like the centerpiece of our junior high, where the kids want to go,” Walker said.

He mentioned a desire to add good chairs and caffeine-free coffee to the junior high library setting and make it “kind of like a student union at a college.”

Walker said there had been contact with the Pawhuska Public Library about providing Pawhuska Junior High School students with access to ebooks. He said access to electronic resources will be important to developing the appeal of the library to junior high students.

“To reach these kids you’ve got to speak their language, and their language is technology,” he said.

Walker also said the materials in the junior high school library were found to be outdated, and about $25,000 of grant money had been spent buying new items.

Walker also said the junior high has established an esports program to appeal to kids who enjoy playing electronic games. About 40 kids participate, he said. The students stay after class hours to play games, but they also receive academic tutoring, he said.

Walker credited Pawhuska Junior High students with being the driving force behind the establishment of a student council.

“It was completely driven by the kids. They had to campaign,” he said.

Walker also credited school staff members with displaying interest in the school, noting that staff members painted the entire school interior.

Another subject Walker discussed with the board was parent involvement. Walker said COVID-19 concerns have made parent involvement more difficult.

Questioned by board member Tom Boone about parent involvement, Walker described it as a problem the entire school district is trying to address.

“To be honest with you, I don’t know the answer,” Walker said, but he emphasized that school officials need to avoid too much negativity. He said contact with parents “can’t always be about bashing them over their kids.”

Board member Addie Roanhorse, who said her daughter attends the junior high, complimented the level of communication the school has established with parents.

“It’s been nice to know what’s going on inside,” she said.

Walker indicated he had seen a decline in disciplinary problems since the re-establishment of the junior high.