New principal explains what’s changed this year

Vasu Dar, Staff Writer

Several changes have occurred in Naperville Central with the 2022-2023 school year. Central Times interviewed new principal Jackie Thornton about these changes.

Q: Which rooms are now being used in this building for district space?
A: Room 312 and an office in the flat wing that used to be a copy room which is now the office for the [District 203] Director of Outreach and Belonging Director.

Q: What is the new Community Resource Center?
A: The Community Resource Center is not just for school suspension. It embraces a philosophy of restorative practices, and that we all have learning opportunities. It’s a supportive space, a teaching space and learning space. If something isn’t going well in a specific classroom or at Naperville Central in general, the student advocacy specialists work in tandem with the deans and student services teams to provide learning and support for students so that they’re able to successfully re-engage.

Q: What are the dress code changes?
A: Well, we looked at the dress code through an equity lens and removed some language from the dress code. The language changes make it more gender neutral. In the old dress code, no midriffs could show. That’s removed now. Caps, hats, and head coverings are allowed. We aren’t worried if your top is touching your bottom anymore, but we are still making sure that what you’re wearing isn’t offensive to somebody else.

Q: Why is lunch no longer free?
A: The funding changed at the national level. The reason that all lunches were free for all students the last full school year was because of a change to the National School Lunch Program, and that change is no longer in place. The only students who get free lunch now are those who qualify for the [free or reduced lunch] waiver program.

Q: Why is SOAR support sign-up mandatory this year?
A: At the end of last year, far more students were not making a selection on [SOAR] days. Last semester, Infinite Campus wasn’t functioning the way that we wanted it to for support. We really didn’t have the ability to constantly provide consequences if some body wasn’t attending the support that they selected or were assigned. We were able to work with experts in Infinite Campus to fix these issues. Students will now be accountable for [attending] their selection because we’ll be taking attendance. We want to make sure that students know it’s an opportunity to get what they need during that time. We want students to be using self assessment and reflection to say, ‘how do I need to use this time?’

Q: Why is off-campus lunch restricted to only seniors?
A: Before the pandemic off campus lunch was a senior only privilege. The reason that even changed last year was that the COVID-19 mitigation strategies included the requirement for distance between students. We didn’t have the capacity [to safely distance people] if everybody was on campus for lunch. Those mitigation requirements are no longer in place, so off-campus lunch is back to a senior only privilege.