With the school year winding down, Upper Arlington High School seniors are preparing for graduation. The UAHS commencement will be held June 7 at 2 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 300 W. Broad St.

With the school year winding down, Upper Arlington High School seniors are preparing for graduation. The UAHS commencement will be held June 7 at 2 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 300 W. Broad St.

Rather than naming a valedictorian, the Cum Laude Society, which represents the top 15 percent of high-performing seniors, selects a speaker to deliver the commencement address. This year's speaker is Nathan Malkin.

Initiatives implemented this school year have helped not only seniors but all students maximize their academic standings, said principal Kip Greenhill.

"We're raising the bar with what we expect of our students, but we're also building in support to help those students get over the bar," he said.

For students who need extra attention, teachers now have "office hours" on Wednesdays, when the school bell rings 30 minutes late.

"Every teacher is available in their room to meet with students," Greenhill said. "So if a student is stuck, they can come in and meet with the teacher. Or a teacher can say, 'You're struggling with this concept. I'll see you during office hours,' and the student has to come."

Administrators and teachers have redefined "rigor," with an emphasis on the quality of students' work.

"We've told teachers, 'You shouldn't go beyond three hours of homework in your class per week,'" Greenhill said. "That's backed up by research that says students, in a night, shouldn't have more than two and a half hours of homework."
The emphasis on quality over quantity has led to a 95 percent increase in enrollment in advanced placement classes in the past two years.

"When kids feel overwhelmed with their work in AP classes, we give them a reprieve pass," Greenhill said. "They give it to a teacher, no questions asked, they get a one-day delay on their work. Kids don't have to stay up all night studying."
A major highlight of the past school year, Greenhill said, was the opening this spring of the UA Rise Caf in the school cafeteria. The coffee shop is run by students in the Career Based Intervention and UA Connect programs, which assist students with academic problems, attendance and behavioral issues and/or economic hardships.

Investing their time and energy in the UA Rise Caf has improved the students' attitudes toward school, Greenhill said.

"The UA Rise Caf has been an outstanding success," he said. "These are students who really have been turned off to school. It's amazing. It's like night and day how have they have changed. This is so much more positive because they have something to take pride in."

Greenhill also cited the work of student group Team Delta Max for helping to promote alcohol- and drug-free activities. Partly as a result of Team Delta Max's efforts, this year's prom at COSI went smoothly, Greenhill said.
The school, however, is planning to tweak the dinner/dance format adopted last year to increase attendance, Greenhill said.

"What we're going to have to do is take a look at is other venues," he said. "COSI is a wonderful venue, but it's expensive. If you're spending all your money on the venue, you don't have the money for the dinner, and I think that's where we're losing some kids."

Seniors did well with the open-campus format adopted four years ago, remaining mostly orderly while being given freedom to come and go, Greenhill said.

"Our senior class sets the whole tone in this building," he said. "That doesn't show up on a test score, but it really creates a nice culture in the building."