Kailah Breece, a math teacher at Hayes High School, goes over the class’ standards-based grading system during the first day of school Wednesday. All freshman and sophomore classes at Hayes now use the new grading system, which also rolled out to some junior classes and some electives this year.

Glenn Battishill | The Gazette

Delaware City Schools students returned to class Wednesday and took their first steps into the 2023-2024 school year.

Several changes are underway at Hayes High School, according to Principal Dr. Ric Stranges, who said Wednesday the school has changed its hall pass system and is focusing on building business and industry connections this year.

Stranges said that during the previous school year, a task force was put together to identify issues at the school. It noted that the hall pass system, which allows students to leave during class to use the restrooms, was not working.

“I caught a kid who had a thousand hall passes and was selling them,” Stranges said with a laugh. “I like the entrepreneurial spirit but not at the cost of safety. We’ve begun to look into a different way.”

Stranges said the school now uses a digital system that students can access via their phone or Chromebooks to track students’ hall passes.

“It helps us know who is out of class,” Stranges said. “We’ve had restroom issues in the past of too many kids in the restrooms and this limits it.”

Stranges said another area of focus this year is on building “stronger relationships” with industrial partners to show students different options for their futures.

“When I came here, I was bent on everyone going to college, but the more I hear from our community and industrial partners, the more I realize they really need our students to fill important roles in the job market,” Stranges said. “We are making a concerted effort this year to give our teachers and students more of an opportunity to see what’s out there.”

Stranges said he wants to target those connections at students who aren’t sure about college and aren’t attending the Delaware Area Career Center.

“Career center does a great job preparing our students for work, and we do a great job of preparing students for college, but there’s a group in between who aren’t going to DACC, who aren’t sure about college and are they are talented students … their only option shouldn’t be (entry level work),” Stranges said. “There are so many high paying jobs out there that our students would and could fill if we give them the opportunity to do it.”

To that end, Stranges said some teachers will be touring industrial facilities during a professional development day later this semester.

“If we’re not advocates, the students won’t know what those options are,” Stranges said. “(Our industry partners say), ‘Give us good students, we’ll train them,’ and we have a lot of those. I think it’s going to be a good year to change our trajectory to provide our students with new opportunities.”

Stranges said the school is also making changes to the House system and is adding a Winter Games event on Dec. 18.

“You need to evolve,” he said. “When you evolve, you involve. If it stays stagnant, you lose some of the luster. You have to keep interest high so it doesn’t get stale.

Ethan Fetter, a junior, said he’s looking forward to his classes this year.

“I’m excited that classes are going to get more exciting and interactive throughout year,” he said.

Fetter said he’s also looking forward to competing in drill as part of the AFJROTC program at the school.

Fellow junior Logan Clement said he’s looking forward to “new experiences, new classes, making new friends and getting to socialize with sports and everything” as well as competing in swimming.

Wednesday was not only the first school day at Hayes for juniors Prada Dumdoungrom and Francesca Monterisi, but the first day of school in America as they are both studying at Hayes as part of exchange programs.

Dumdoungrom comes to Hayes from Thailand and said she felt a mix of feelings.

“It’s very exciting, but I’m also nervous because it’s my first day in American high school,” Dumdoungrom said.

Dumdoungrom added she did the exchange program because she wanted to see how different school was in another part of the world.

Monterisi is Italian and said her first day was “going well.”

“I met people, everything is different but I’m adapting,” Monterisi said. “It’s a bit (scary) but also exciting.”

She added that she wanted to participate in some sports at Hayes but wasn’t sure which ones to try.

Both exchange students said they are looking forward to football games, the homecoming dance and prom.

Wednesday was also the first day in the district for Tom Jarvis, a new math teacher at Hayes. Jarvis is a Buckeye Valley graduate and said he’s excited to return to Delaware County, especially since his wife is a teacher at Woodward Elementary School.

“It’s going well,” Jarvis said. “The students have been fun and excited. It feels like I’m getting my feet back under me.”

Jarvis said he’s looking forward to teaching precalculus at Hayes.

“I’m excited about precalc,” Jarvis said. “It was my favorite class in high school, and it’s fun to bring it up. I’m excited to meet the students.”

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903.