Courtesy of Agua Fria High School District

Developing Our Viper Culture

May 16, 2022

Developing the Viper Culture with Freshmen Advisory


Matt Lees

The Stevenson high school main hall where students are greeted.

Last month, a group of staff and teachers took a trip to Stevenson High school in Chicago, Illinois. I interviewed Mrs. Breitwieser, the Language and Composition teacher and a vice-principal here at Verrado. Her biggest takeaway from the school was their focus on leadership. 

She detailed this program, where the seniors mentor the freshmen. “It sets the culture of the school.” It is their equivalent of freshmen advisory, but it is student-run. This helps contribute to the culture where “people loved their school.” The students felt like it was “their place,” and she wanted Verrado to create more student leadership, so our students could feel the same.  

She also noticed that there were a lot of purposeful student hangout spots. For example, there is a coffee shop where students can get coffee and study. She said they are “out in the open,” and the spaces are “utilized.” This encourages students not to go into hiding because there are designated areas where they can openly hang out together.

Going there confirmed some of her “hunches” about evidence-based grading, a grading system that considers the product of a student with the standard. We are doing evidence-based grading next year at Verrado. “It was good to see how evidence-based grading is supposed to work.”  She hopes that this school will help us “build a good foundation.”  

After visiting the school, Mrs. Breitwieser is optimistic about the future of Verrado, and she hopes we can use this school for guidance to lead Verrado into a great future!



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Vaping in the Bathrooms Just Bad Student Behavior

No Vaping Sign

Courtesy of Verrado High School

No Vaping signs are seen around public restrooms with hopes of reminding students.

Within this school year,  Verrado students have seen an increase in smoking and vaping in the bathrooms. Unfortunately, it has become a common sight to see. 3 or 4 girls will go into one stall, and soon smells of cherry or bubblegum fill the air.  

In the girl’s bathroom, student vapers will spend up to 20 minutes in a stall, creating a ripple effect on other students and potentially the whole school. Smoking can set off fire alarms, as it did earlier in the year, disturbing instructional time in classes and taking away class time from students. The most annoying impact of all of this is the long lines in the bathroom. As girls vape in the bathroom stalls, it is often hard to go to the bathroom in between periods and still make it on time to class. A couple of days ago, anyone walking into the restroom found a line of girls outside. This was because Mrs. Bonessi had caught a few students vaping. Students who spent 5 minutes waiting in this line, caused most everyone to be 10 minutes late for class. Depending on the class, if a student misses some notes, it’s hard to understand the class.

After speaking with other students. Out of the 30 people asked, 25 said they were annoyed by vaping in the bathrooms. Three of those people said that it caused problems in their daily life. This impromptu survey proves that vaping has become a real problem at our school. Possible solutions could be increased security at the doors of the bathrooms or a limited number of students inside at a time, this could solve the problem of people hanging out in the stalls together, vaping, and socializing. No one wants to have to go through these restrictions, but most people are willing to if it means they don’t have to wait for a long-time to use the restroom.

Vaping in the restrooms signifies bad behavior in students.  To the students who participate in vaping or smoking of any kind, please consider the impact it has on your peers.  Not only that, but take into account the impact it has on you, your mind, and your body. Short-term stimulation is not as great as a long-term healthy life. 


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