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02/20/2007: Principal's Message - March

The students at Santa Barbara High School are in for the ride of their lives. If you believe what Thomas Friedman writes in The World is Flat (and I do), our children are entering a technological age that brings them closer to their global peers than any other generation. Why do I believe this statement? Because, like you, I have witnessed our students speak on cell phones and text message their friends daily. In today’s technological world, the number of text messages sent each day exceeds the population of the planet.


In addition to this broad exchange of information, the amount of information available to our students – your children – is exponentially greater than it was just a decade ago. Consider this: there are five times the number of words in the English language than there were during Shakespeare’s time; there are 3,000 new books published every day around the world; and finally, more unique bits of information will be produced worldwide this year than was produced in the last 5,000 years. All of this new information is accessible on your desktop computer, your Blackberry, your cell phone, or your ipod, and it is accessible on an ever-updating basis.


In order for this tsunami of information to be effectively harnessed by today’s student, she or he will need a combination of skills that aren’t easily measured. Critical thinking and problem solving skills are more important today than ever before because the economic world as we know it is changing at such a rapid pace. Richard Riley, former Secretary of Education under Bill Clinton, estimates that the top ten jobs in 2010 didn’t exist two years ago. More importantly, he believes that we are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technology that hasn’t been invented.


Consider this example using our senior students: Presently, the amount of new technical information doubles every two years. That means by the time our seniors are entering their 3rd year of college, half of what they learned as college freshmen will be outdated.


The ability of our students to use effective research strategies, to collect accurate information, to formulate a response to a problem, and then synthesize an eloquent answer will be the measure of tomorrow’s professional.  At Santa Barbara High School, we emphasize these skills because we believe two things to be fundamental to our students’ success after high school. First, we can’t learn academic subjects exclusive of each other; we acknowledge that information is inter-related and inter-dependent. Second, the ability to work cooperatively with a multitude of personalities and view-points is critical to problem solving.


As our seniors approach the mid-point of the third quarter, they have fewer opportunities to hone and implement their problem solving strategies as Dons. They have put in thousands of hours studying, participating in extra-curricular activities, and attending student sponsored events. As their final year winds down, they should view the remaining classes, assignments, and exams as significant steps toward graduation. I know that I will be proud to shake our seniors’ hands in June, wishing them the best of luck as they navigate the wild ride that our technological world has in store for them.


I believe that as the school year continues, we will see even greater performances in the classroom and on the campus from all of our students. I also believe that with every great student performance, there is great support from home. Thank you to the parents, the PTSA, the alumni association, and all the fantastic community entities that view our students as a priority.


Go Dons!

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