Monroe High School moves forward

ROCHESTER — Luz Maldonado is a mother of six children. Two have graduated from James Monroe High School, and she expects her four others to do the same.

During a "Back-to-School" fair at Monroe on Aug. 27, Maldonado said that she was thrilled when she heard that Vicky Ramos, a former principal at Monroe, had been asked to return to the school on the heels of the contentious ouster of former principal Armando Ramírez. Ramírez had been principal for the past two years and learned that he was being replaced after reading an online resolution posted in July by the board of education regarding the hiring of a new administrator to serve as Monroe principal.

Annie Sengsourichanh, whose daughter is going into eighth grade, said that she was sad to see Ramírez go.

"But if changes are being made for a good purpose, it’s understandable," she said, adding that she met Ramos at the "Back-to-School" fair and was impressed. "She seems like she’ll be a good principal."

Maldonado said that Ramos has a way with students and knows how to elicit respect and cooperation from them. She also makes herself available to help parents, Maldonado added.

"She is a very good person," Maldonado said of Ramos. "She knows how to control the students very well. There is not a better person than she. … They couldn’t have made a better choice to fix this school."

Ramos said that all the school community can do is move forward. She said that she was happy to return to Monroe, where she had served as principal from 2009-12, and see the students she knew from years past now grown up as incoming juniors. Since 2012, she has been overseeing the district’s student equity and placement program.

"A lot of good things were happening (at Monroe)," she said, including a new parent support center, invested parents and an increasing graduation rate.

"We need to support the good and … continue on the critical path and support the students, staff and parents," Ramos added.

She has a three-pronged approach coming into Monroe that she calls the ABCs: attendance, behavior and course completion, Ramos explained.

"My plea to parents is, ‘Send your kids to school,’" she said.

Also part of moving forward was keeping events like the third-annual "Back-to-School" fair in place, Ramos added. Soon after she was named principal at the end of July, she gave Dilia Olmeda, the fair coordinator, the go-ahead, Ramos said. Olmeda then worked quickly to secure donations to purchase backpacks and school supplies and also received donated backpacks to give out during the fair, she said.

Families also received lunch and information from several community agencies during the fair. Additionally, students were encouraged to consider joining the school’s new modified lacrosse team as well as the modified football team that is returning after last playing 30 years ago.

Also new at the school last year was a guitar group formed by teacher Ed Dyminski, who was on hand with his students to perform during the fair.

"I told them this is their showcase," he said. "They practiced twice over the summer. That was amazing."

He also is planning on scheduling other performing opportunities for the kids, some of whom had never picked up a guitar before last year, noted Dyminski.

Sixteen-year-old Josh Palermo, a junior, said that he is excited about playing with the group and the school’s fresh start overall.

"I believe it’ll be a good year," he said.

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