Roswell High School Principal Ruben Bolanos discusses the start of the new school year with the Kiwanis Club on Tuesday. As of Tuesday, RHS had 1,409 students enrolled, he said. (Randal Seyler Photo)
The hallways of Roswell High School are teeming with 1,400 students this year, and keeping them engaged and in school is a challenge, says Principal Ruben Bolanos.
“Our kids returned on Aug. 14, and our numbers started out at 1,300-plus students, and we had 1,409 as of this morning,” Bolanos said on Tuesday.
Bolanos was the guest speaker for the Roswell Kiwanis Club.
Teachers returned to school on Aug. 7 to prepare for the students’ return, and the educators had to hit the ground running.
“There is a lot of information for them to digest before Aug. 14, and we had several teachers go to AP training,” Bolanos said. “We have to prepare the staff for the challenges of meeting all the requirements mandated at the state level each year.”
Besides classroom activity, all the extracurricular activities have started, including volleyball and soccer, and cross-country also begins this week.
“And of course, we have football beginning this Friday, with us hosting the Ruidoso Warriors,” Bolanos said.
Although Ruidoso is a 4A school, Bolanos said Coyote fans shouldn’t expect Friday’s game to be a cakewalk.
“They have a receiver who is getting attention from national recruiters, and they have some other good players as well,” Bolanos said. “We are going to have to work for it, and that is the beauty of competition.”
Competition teaches students strategy and how to best an opponent, and competition in the school is not just found on the playing field, and it isn’t just the students who have to work toward improvement, Bolanos said.
Roswell High received a “B” grade from the state this year, which was up from its three-year average of a “C” grade, the principal said.
“I am really proud of our improvements, but I am also proud of our district.”
Bolanos said no school in the Roswell Independent School District received an “F” this year, and he noted that Goddard High School had received an “A.”
“Kudos to Goddard High — it takes a lot of work to achieve a grade like that.”
One of the areas Roswell High was graded an “F” in was graduation.
“We need to get every freshman to stay until graduation,” Bolanos said. “And if we could tell their parents, ‘no, you can’t move away and take a better job, you have to stay here,’ we could keep them all,” he added, jokingly.
Bolanos said the freshman students are kept together in the 300 wing of the high school during their early days as high schoolers, so they can become used to the new environment.
“We repeat the message, ‘when you graduate, when you graduate,’ to the ninth-graders, because if we can keep them through that freshman year, there is a greater chance they will graduate,” he said.
Roswell High ranks in the top five schools in the state for improvement in its English learner students, Bolanos said.
“Good things are happening at Roswell High School,” he said. “We are doing good things, especially for a school our size.”
One of the most important skills high school students can pick up is reading, Bolanos said, so the program stresses teaching reading comprehension.
“It isn’t like you remember, we aren’t reading Shakespeare, but we are reading,” he said. “Now it is more likely we are reading instructions on how to put together a lawnmower, or clippings from a newspaper, but we are stressing the importance of reading.”
When students say to Bolanos they want to be a doctor or a lawyer, he asks them, “What books have you read lately? What books are you reading?”
Ultimately, Bolanos said it is the goal of the high school to not just create students, but to create successful, informed citizens who will be a benefit to their community and society as a whole.
“It’s not just about giving them information, or even job skills,” Bolanos said. “It is a learning process — we teach them how to become involved in the community.”
City Editor Randal Seyler may be reached at 622-7710, ext. 311, or firstname.lastname@example.org.