Every time a change happens there is cause for concern. The principal in many ways is the face of a school. In the many decades RBHS has existed, continuity in principals has been standard, with only seven principals serving in the school’s history as of this year. To have that leader change can bring uneasiness. We angst over annual elections, moving to new cities and initiating new relationships.
The same is true now, as the 2018-19 school year will be the last for Principal Dr. Jennifer Rukstad at RBHS. Ever since Dr. Rukstad announced she would be filling an assistant superintendent position at Aslin, students have wondered what the next year will bring with a regime change.
When she told us her successor would be Jacob Sirna, brows furrowed. What did it mean? He was a principal at Marshall High School and before that at Oakland Middle School and (gasp!) at Battle High School, our rival, as well.
What would it mean? Did he value our beloved “freedom with responsibility?” Would he take away open campus lunch?
Or worse, would he require hall passes?
It would seem our worries may be for naught.
Already he has made a special trip to our school to meet with a journalism student for an interview for this issue of The Rock. He could have requested the student conduct the interview via phone or email, yet he instead took time out of his day to personally meet with the student.
Afterward, at 5 p.m., he walked into the classroom, with a smile on his face, and asked students for advice and recommendations as to what they value about the school and how best he can serve them.
He reminisced about participating in yearbook and debate while in his Kansas City high school and spoke with each student in the room to see what he or she was producing for the paper and Bearing News.
This didn’t seem to be idle chatter. He noted he would come back to meet with teachers, which he did yesterday, but an equal concern to him was how he could connect with students and start getting to know them.
When he met a student in the hallway who asked about his feelings on freedom with responsibility, he praised faculty who had interviewed him for the position, saying the RBHS philosophy was foremost in their minds and that philosophy is one he agrees with, which seems promising.
Through his many visits and his affable manner, he already feels like a familiar face and friend. He has gone to lengths to reach out and touch base with many groups on campus.
This is not an instance, however, where we wear rose-colored glasses and take generosity as a token of absolute greatness. We, as journalists, believe what Walter Cronkite said, “In seeking truth you have to get both sides of the story.”
We take the quote as a message and mantra for our journalistic practices: that we have to remain unbiased, curious and open-minded about every story we publish. As our new principal steps into his role, he will be there to cover the issues that affect our school. Next year will have big changes with the shift from teacher assistants and the handling of the single student entrance. Our job is to accurately and fairly portray significant events that happen in our community. Our new principal should hold us accountable, and, in turn, we promise to hold our school, community and him accountable, too.
Do you have any concerns or questions for Sirna? Let us know in the comments below!