It's not just grade 10 students that are stepping into Strathmore High School (SHS) for the first time: Principal Doug Raycroft is also entering his first year as its principal. While he was with the school before as an Associate Principal, this is his first year as the school's principal.

Raycroft is excited to be back and is looking forward to building on its great reputation. He hopes to continue doing what's working well, while also looking for ways to improve.

"Strathmore High School is an excellent school, the teachers and the administration that have been here before are amazing. So it's not like I'm coming in thinking that everything needs to change, but as soon as you stop changing and trying to get better, you're in a situation where you're probably going to start seeing issues. So it's always good to look at what you're doing and look at your results."

"Sometimes it's good to have a rookie mindset when you're coming into a building. A lot of times, schools, we get set in our ways. We do things for a reason, but as a new person coming in I can analyze a lot of the things we're doing and ask questions."

As the principal, Raycroft is focusing on building a positive environment for students to express themselves and feel like they belong in a community.

"We want to have a real positive school culture. It's important for all of our students to feel safe in the building, be connected to teachers but also other students, or get involved in groups. Not just athletics, we have a great fine arts program, we have a great art program, we have lots of clubs so we just really want kids to get involved in some way in the school, because it's important for their self esteem to be connected and feel that they're contributing members for something bigger than themselves."

While building within the school is an obvious key focus for any principal, Raycroft is also looking to become way more involved with the community. There are several ways he hopes to achieve this, like the work experience program which gets students working in some local businesses. He also hopes to bring back the community work day, where students go out and work in the community for a small fee, and the funds they raise get donated to a charitable cause.

The school's mission statement is "empowering a community of accomplished and caring citizens," which Raycroft says is a huge part of his focus in getting the community more involved with the school.

"Citizenship is huge, and our job as teachers is to make kids capable. We teach them, we try to develop them in learning. But an extension of that is to make them really good citizens. So that's the whole community aspect. And you can't just say that, you really have to make an effort to try and get connected with the community."

He knows getting the community involved won't happen overnight, but to Raycroft, this is an important aspect of what he wants to bring to the school and will work hard to make it happen.

"It's important to try to build these things, it doesn't just happen automatically. It takes a lot of work, and it takes a lot of communication."

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