Oh the places you’ll go? PCHS wants to know
At the end of every school year, Park City High School creates a map of the United States showing where all their graduates are going. But the map only shows where they say they’re going, not where they end up. That’s changing, though, with the launch of the LifeTrack system, whereby school officials hope to keep tabs on former Miners for years after they graduate. "It just fits with an overall evaluation we’d like to do with our school," said Principal Hal Smith, noting, "It’s one more element of being the best school we can be." LifeTrack helps the school evaluate its programs to see what faculty could have done differently to prepare the students, Smith said. The school recently completed its initial survey of the class of 2003, and will send out subsequent surveys every couple years. The school mailed the survey to all of 2003’s 296 graduates, and 68.5 percent of those who received it responded (students or their parents). Tracking student progress is particularly important nowadays, given that college is no longer "where you go in four years and then you’re out," for a variety of reasons, such as increased tuition expenses, Smith said. LifeTrack will also be an aid to class reunions in the future. Many people call the school trying to track down information about graduates, which the school doesn’t have access to because families move and addresses change, Smith said. But there’s one other important aspect of LifeTrack. "It’ll be a great list for those who become extremely rich and want to give back to the community that helped them so much," Smith said. Survey results The class of 2003 generally has a very positive view of its alma matter. Responding to questions about the quality of education and teachers, students answered positively, with percentages in the high 80s, and only a very few answered negatively. About 10 percent of students did not respond to each question. But students want more public speaking training. About 60 percent of respondents said more speaking classes would have been beneficial. "It’s still the thing that scares them more than anything else," Smith said. The school has been "beefing up" its public speaking, Smith said, and introduced a revamped debate program under teacher Matt Nagel this year. More than 70 percent of students said extra-curricular activities were an important part of their high school experience, and about 20 percent said they weren’t. Park City High School has a broad, eclectic array of clubs for students to join political, athletic, artistic, service and one for comic book fans. The survey had students evaluate different academic departments in the school, ranking them from "needs improvement" to "excellent." The history department got the highest marks – 43.3 percent "excellent" – which is not surprising, as history teachers Jim Fleming and John Krenkel consistently win student recognition awards. Almost 60 percent of respondents said the high school provided "excellent" preparation for higher education, but only 23 percent said the same about entering the workforce. About 91 percent of students praised the school for helping guide their post-graduation plans and choices. LifeTrack is for more than just the high school students who go to college which is more than 80 percent every year. It monitors those who go straight into the workforce, to see if they have the appropriate skills they need, Smith said. But Park City High School may not be as drug free as educators want, according to the survey. Almost 20 percent or students said the school was "below average" or "needed improvement" in providing a drug-free environment. More than 20 percent said the same to the question "Do you feel that currently there is a problem with drug and/or alcohol use at school or school-related activities?" Monitoring students’ destinations reflects the way the high school has changed over the years. "It’s not like 30 years ago when we competed with South Summit or Wasatch," Smith said. "We’re competing on a national or international level." And the class of 2003 seems to agree. To the question about Park City High School improving itself to be the best it can be, about 75 percent answered it was "good" or "excellent."
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