New Principal Brings Controversial Changes to North

Since Michael Akers replaced Jeff Henderson as the principal of Bloomington High School North, the changes brought on by his administrative team have been accompanied by tension and student upset.

According to George Morpurgo, senior class president, there are two main causes of upset.

The first is the adamant nature of the North student body.

“Every student has an opinion and every student wants to voice that opinion,” Morpurgo said.

Students at North voice their thoughts because they are given abundant opportunity to do so. Students have always been able to not only speak and be heard, but also to take action through the plethora of school sponsored clubs and activities that exist at North.

“The biggest change I’ve seen [this year] is that students are more vocal than ever,””

— Morpurgo

Morpurgo recognizes, however, that this environment breeds outrage at any executive action taken by the administration, which is the second reason that tensions are high right now.

Each move made by the administration causes a new wave of anger and further increased tensions.

Three specific moves allegedly made by the administration have been the root of student upset this year.

The first was the prohibition of food being eaten outside of the cafeteria.

The cafeteria has always been the designated eating area, many North students have enjoyed the freedom of eating in the library, commons, hallways, and classrooms in past years.

Frances Sheets
Senior President George Morpurgo poses for a portrait

Although this keeps pests under control and limits the custodial workload,  forcing food to be kept in the cafeteria also presents quite a few problems.

“The cafeteria is extremely crowded and for any student with any kind of anxiety can be terrifying and can make them very uncomfortable,” Catherine Barker, junior, said. “Backpacks are also prohibited in the cafeteria, which prevents students from studying during their lunch.”

Since the beginning of the school year, the rules have since been relaxed, and students are now permitted to eat in classrooms. The administration, upon hearing student complaints, has moved the condiment line out of the way in the cafeteria and added more tables and chairs to try and stretch the space available.

As for students suffering from severe social anxiety or other mental or physical health issues that would prevent them from eating in the cafeteria easily, the administration is handling them on a case by case basis.

“We’ve been making accommodations as necessary for those kids,” Akers said.

Accompanying the issue of the cafeteria this school year is the dress code. Although North has always had a written dress code, which can be found in the student handbook, it has never been enforced.

Rumors regarding changing the dress code have been circulating since the beginning of the school year. The administration, however, has no plans to do so at this time.

Another point of tension between the students and the administration is the enforcement of parking passes. Although not new, parking passes still cause considerable upset among students.

Many have come to believe that parking passes allow the administration to randomly search students cars, and are also concerned with the fines that accompany the choice to not purchase a parking pass, which are sold for $5 in the BHSN book store. Fines are rumored to be upwards of $50.

Despite the considerable amount of traction they have gained, the rumors surrounding parking passes are false. Although students will be ticketed, there are no fines or monetary consequences for not purchasing a parking pass.

This is the case with most of the rumors that have been started as a reaction to the changes in the school.

“Rumors are not feasible,” Morpurgo said. “Rumors are a side effect of sensationalism and [they] should not be considered in school decisions, or any decision. The only good Rumours come in the form of Fleetwood Mac albums.”

The changes to North this year have been an adjustment for everyone, and will certainly take some getting used to.

One thing that many students think could ease tensions is being introduced to Akers and the rest of North’s administration, which is 60% new.

“The student body has not been introduced to the new principal, which needs to change,” Barker said.

Students who are involved in Student Council, Hoosiers Outrun Cancer, Newspaper, The Cougar Leader Program, or other clubs have been given opportunities to interact with the new administration in groups and individually.

However, these groups do not make up the majority of the student body.

Frances Sheets
Senior class president George Morpurgo talks to the student body while dressed in a monkey suit at the fall pep rally

Although it has happened later than expected, Akers has slowly been introducing himself to various groups of  students. He has also been making an effort to attend school sporting events to show support for students in the school.

“Ideally, it would have been nice to [meet with students] from the very first week of school,” Akers said. “We’ve been trying to get the building up and running.”

Akers plans to keep meeting students in small groups, and hopes to get the chance to introduce himself to each class soon.

Despite all the tension, Barker encourages students to focus on the positives.

“Many aspects of those who were hired were very positive, such as their immense support of the arts at North,” Barker said. “Yes, here have been some rules set in place which were not there before but I think that is to be expected from any new administration.”  

Morpurgo encourages students to be willing to accept change, and work with the administration in productive ways to affect the change they want to see.

“Students must be willing to work with the new administration in certain areas, and the administration must take students seriously,” Morpurgo said. “The solution, quite simply, is compromise.”

He said that the only thing he wants to change about North would be installing a shrine dedicated to Mr. Smith, more lovingly known by most students as “Willie.”

Morpurgo thinks that Willie is the perfect example of an authority figure who fully supported and cared for the student body.

“We need administrators who can be a smiling, welcoming image to students. It isn’t about authorities giving ordinances and making new rules to maintain order. It isn’t about students rebelling against the man. It’s about treating everybody who walks through the doors of BHSN like a human being.””

— Morpurgo