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Southern High students unhappy with new leadership

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - Students at Southern High School aren't too pleased with the changes that took effect this morning as many refused to go to their first period. Although students tell KUAM News this morning's event was in fact a walkout prompted by the change in leadership at the Santa Rita school, Department of Education deputy superintendent of assessment and accountability Rob Malay says otherwise.

"I don't think it's fair to call it a walkout because some of the students were in the hallway waiting for a teacher to arrive who might have been delayed, and other students were just strolling the hallways waiting to go to class," he explained. "So I don't know if I would call it an organized walkout."

Today is day one for the new leadership team which now includes former J.P. Torres Principal Rosalin Meeks, PC Lujan Elementary's Geraldine Pablo, Agueda Johnston Middle's Trisha San Miguel, George Washington High's Gaylene Cruz, and DOE curriculum and instruction Raymond Mantanona. Malay said, "Those people were selected by the superintendent and Mrs. Meeks in particular came highly recommended by a lot of the folks the superintendent had reached out to. They sat down together and decided what would be the best team to move the school forward."

Meanwhile, Southern High's James Petite is now the head at Agueda and remaining assistant principals Joel Punzalan at GW, Gerard Tedpahago at Untalan, and Janet Duenas at PC Lujan.  For Petite, Day One as a pirate reminds him of his early days as an administrator at Vicente Benavente Middle School in Dededo.

"The difference is that in middle school this is such a tumultuous time for change for kids right they're going through all kinds of things physiologically emotionally," he said, "and I believe that this is the battle grounds to maintain that track into high school and graduation or you're going to lose them here. "

Petite admits his new office space at the Ordot campus is too small and he's had staff identify an underused classroom for his new office. "I think I need to move my office to another area now we've identified a classroom that can be moved because I do want to be here in the front but I think that this office is too crowded and too small because we need other places to meet like accreditation teams and stuff like that," he said.

Other changes include the move for Agueda's principal Naomi Taitingfong to Jose Rios Middle School.

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