The Pass to Library Passes

  Photo taken by: Dex Keizers

  Faculty members denying a pass request can be a student’s worst nightmare, especially if it’s a few periods before a test or when a last minute pass is required. Some students report passes being denied to the library more than other teachers.

    The main reason the media center staff declines a pass is student error in a request such as lack of correct information.

    “The correct way to send a pass is making sure the description is correct. I just need to know what period students are coming,” librarian Gigi Shook said. “Some students have told me a whole big line of ‘I need to do this and that.’ I’m not going to question why you have to come in, I just need to know when you’re coming in.”

    Out of over 2,400 students in the school, up to 40 students per class period could already be using the library for VU and Global campus classes.  These students are given priority seating in the library and take up most of the limited number of seats available.

    “There are a lot of reasons that I think a lot of students misunderstand,” Shook said. “Just because a student puts a pass in for the library, they think that I’m going to have the space. Global Campus students are assigned here. We already have students in here before I even open the library up to study hall students. So I think that when kids see that the pass has been declined, they need to read the reason. A lot of times it’s that the period is full, which has happened more this semester. Or sometimes they don’t get the pass in on time or some of the information is wrong.”

    The Media Center is one of the busiest places in the school; not only do the staff have the day-to-day running of the Media Center, they are also supervising students who take the online courses. This is why the deadline of 7 a.m. exists for submissions for passes. Library staff cannot always check their iPads through the day with their workload.

    “You have to be diligent about it, because it gets so busy in here with iPads and everything else. Getting people checked in and checked out for Global Campus takes up time also. That’s why, at the beginning of the year, I made the decision to have all the passes in by 7:00. Sometimes I do a last verification at 7:30. So sometime within that period, it has to come in. The bad part about that is there are needs that come up in the day, and I can’t constantly go on my iPad. That’s why I had to make some kind of deadline; it’s not perfect. It would be nice to verify a pass during the day, but I just don’t have the time. It’s just busy in here all the time,” Shook said.

    There have been cases of paper passes being misused by students who would “acquire ” a stack of passes and stamp them for themselves to use at a later date; however,
paper passes are hardly ever used within school since the introduction of PassWhiz.

    “Before someone could walk off with a book of passes and just write them out and get a stamp,” Shook said. “Because those things in the past did happen, people lost their stamps or didn’t realize someone had taken a pad of paper. This, though, it goes directly to the teacher so the teacher has to verify it, to say it’s okay. In some ways it cut that back.”

   PassWhiz passes make it easier for students to send requests, but due to to the impersonal delivery, students may misunderstand the mistakes they make on the pass and don’t know why it was denied.

   “PassWhiz is much easier to use than writing 80 passes a day. The only negative is I can’t properly communicate with students because they don’t understand [the denial note] is a way of communication,” Shook said.

    If students are having trouble with PassWhiz, Assistant Principal Jake Short is the administrator who works directly with the app developer.


Four-Alarm Fiasco

At 7:05 this morning the walls of our high school came alive with the warning of a fire…again. CG is officially at four fire alarms in as many days and has yet to have had an actual fire.

For students, the literal “false alarms” have gone three too far.

“This is really annoying,” Nate Duke said. “It has happened more than once and they really need to figure it out. I don’t think it should be that hard of a fix.”

Even the students who feel like they can understand feel it has gotten to be too much.

“I understand why the fire alarms are going off because of the construction, but it is really annoying to have to stand out here every time because it is super cold,” Mitchell Black said. “Especially when it was raining, some people didn’t have umbrellas. It’s annoying.”

The school’s fire alarms are set up in loops. Assistant principal Jake Short confirmed that the same one has been going off each time, but that the construction is not entirely to blame. In fact, there is not even construction going on in that area right now.

“These particular [loops], they are erratic right now. They’re saying ‘smoke’ but they’re not even working in that area,” Short said.

The administration has contacted the fire alarm company to figure out the bug.

“They turned [the problematic loop] off and they are actually investigating right now what is causing it to go off,” Short said. “I think the biggest thing is even though there have been a couple of false alarms, we still have to make sure that we’re not complacent, and that we do exit the building appropriately because we tend to lose the sense of urgency when it goes off a couple times and it’s not an actual drill or an actual fire, and we need to make sure we don’t lose that sense of urgency.”

So when the alarm goes off, head outside, even though the likelihood of an actual fire is low. And maybe keep an umbrella in your backpack.

PassWhiz Pains

Pass Whiz    

The PassWhiz application is the new kid at school and I’m not quite comfortable with it yet.  While helpful, it can be obnoxious at times.  There is no worse feeling than remembering you need a pass for today and it is already past 7 a.m, which is the cutoff for pass submission.

PassWhiz is beyond useful, but it is still a hard change. No doubt, the new system is easier than trying to catch the attention of teachers at the unholy hours of the morning and being willing to risk their wrath in order to be in their class again later that day. It’s also harder to lose your iPad than a scrap of paper; but is it really worth the apprehension that comes with wondering if your teacher will see or even verify your pass if it is sent in late?

Some teachers do not even use the PassWhiz system, and the main office still sends you a paper pass if they need to talk to you.  There are currently two forms of the pass system at play and it makes it very difficult to adopt the new system if the old one is still available.

PassWhiz has both in app and user problems.  I have my doubts that it will last very long. It would be easier to accept the PassWhiz system if there were incentives to use it.  Paper passes are still an option for use, and because they still exist, people will use them because it is what they are used to.  If paper passes were eliminated, teachers would have no choice but to use them.  Students might also be more likely to use the PassWhiz app if it was available for free download on personal devices, such as phones and home computers.

Thankfully, Dean Jake Short was happy to answer the lingering questions I had about the PassWhiz app.  PassWhiz was not designed by Center Grove, but was designed by a high school student in Noblesville, which means our school has added incentive to keep PassWhiz even if the system is unsuccessful because it was paid for.  Short acknowledged that the application had problems at the beginning of the year.

“When students signed up for it, they signed up under Noblesville High School instead of Center Grove,” Short said.  “We have worked with the developer, and he has made Center Grove the top of the list.”

Why was it such a big problem anyway?  All that had to be done was a little reading and thinking to solve it.

As I suspected, the PassWhiz app keeps track of what time the pass starts and what time it ends, which is very big brother of the administration.  Short said that the time data is actually being recorded in a database.

“If a fire alarm is pulled, we will be able to identify students who were in the hallway at that point in time,” Short said.  “It will narrow it down to who was out there.”

Maybe with this tracker, they will finally catch all the guys who skip last period to get Taco Bell.

Despite skepticism and a lack of support by some individuals, the administration is confident that it will be used more often by everyone in the future.

“It’s new and change is hard, but as we move towards more common usage of it, kids will get used to it, teachers will get used it, then it will eventually become second nature,” Short said.

I like the new change, but it is still a change. The benefits to a digital pass system are many, but only time will tell if this new method sticks around for the year or not.