What's Happening in Character?

Creating Caring High Schools: Spotlight on Bayless High

Posted by Patrick McEvoy on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 @ 04:03 AM

By Emina Ahmetovic Grade 12, Meris Saric Grade 11 and Patrick McEvoy, Principal

Bayless High School is making students smarter, better and stronger. The students and staff feel so safe and secure at school that they never lock their lockers.

Yes, you read that correctly. 90% of the student body feels so safe that, in most cases, they never lock their hall lockers. The locks just hang on the locker handles like ornaments. They serve no security purpose in a school where everyone feels safe and their personal belongings are secured by the collective trust that each student has toward each other. They trust the environment they are in, so it makes it easier for the students to attend school over 96% of the time.

Some might wonder how this is accomplished.  Below are some of the ways the school does it.

Bayless_HS_Photo_2.jpgUnconditional Support from Staff

Senior Taylor Owens said, “We feel safe in this school because of how close we are to our teachers and counselors. We have unconditional support from them, and I could not imagine going to any other high school.”

The students at Bayless High School enjoy including their staff in all of their activities and fundraisers. They host Teacher Talent Shows, Teacher Grammys, staff athletic events, and occasionally serve them breakfast or stock their faculty lounge fridge. At Bayless High School they have formed a home away from home making Bayless so unique, and safe, that many would doubt this could ever be achieved.  It is something you have to experience and see in order to fully understand.

The clubs at Bayless High School are diverse and bring many different opinions and creativity to our school. Spirit weeks demonstrate the collective pride students feel as Bayless Bronchos. The activities show how caring the school community is because the many events make sure everyone is included.

Everybody Belongs at Bayless

The Student Council hosts an amazing Welcome Back Week to welcome back all the teachers and students. They come up with a theme and use that theme in order to welcome everybody, and we mean everybody. This year their theme was (BHS) “Flagship.” They decorated the main hall with anchors and flagships and made sure to continue the tradition of putting everybody's names on it so the students feel like they belong.

This practice of celebrating everyone happens multiple times during a single year.  Students feel they belong like members of an extended family might.  Again, all this with perhaps the most diverse high school population in Missouri.

Caring for the Community through Service Learning

The National Honor Society sponsored a Canned Food Drive for the Affton Elks, and collected a record amount of items.  It took three small cars, a truck, and a van in order to get the cans to the Affton Elks.  This was all done to feed the hungry right in the BHS community.   Bayless DECA hosts the annual Sadie Hawkins dance which shows equality between the genders and encourages girls to overcome their fears and generalization and ask the guys to the dance instead of the opposite.

The annual Souper Bowl, which caught local news attention for bringing Bayless clubs and the Affton community together, is held at the Affton Food Pantry. All collected proceeds, canned goods and money, went towards the Affton Food Pantry. It is hosted by Ms. Patricia Mudd’s art classes and her Art Club. Students paint ceramic bowls to be shown and auctioned before and during the event. Ms. Melinda Brown’s 1st place Culinary Club makes all the delicious food for the evening, and the rest of the clubs have volunteers sign up to help with everything else that goes into making this night successful.

Class Projects, Sportsmanship & More

The caring doesn’t stop at these special events. When Bayless says they include everyone, they really mean it. The Leadership class every year makes sure that all the students and staff are included for their projects such as Operation Beautiful, Be the Change week, and Leadership week. During these events the school encourages people to be themselves, and helps them develop a higher self-esteem.

The sports department holds three annual sports banquets to recognize the student athletes for their hard work and sportsmanship while representing Bayless.  In order to include everyone, and not just the members of these clubs, Bayless has each of their advisories come up with a service learning project and make a pledge of what they will do to help the community.  The building is broken into advisories,sometimes referred to as small families, where each of them creates their own projects.

Behind Bayless’ diverse and talented student body there is a dedicated and empowering staff that makes sure that Bayless, and its students, are doing well, day in and day out. Whether it be the friendly cafeteria employees, the custodial workers, or the hands on teachers and administrators, Bayless’ core values of respect and responsibility are expressed by all faculty members.

The admiration between, and towards, staff members is visible on a daily basis. The staff treats one another with various food and drink selections in the faculty lounge each and every Wednesday.  Often, the group of culinary students prepare breakfasts to keep the  staff energized for a day at Bayless High.

After school hours, Bayless staff members are always at student sporting events, home or away.  They can be seen helping at the doors, or cheering in the stands side-by-side with their students. The students’ sportsmanship can match the sportsmanship that the Bayless staff shows when they take on our rival district in faculty basketball games. The students now cheer on their staff athletes with pride!  This is how BHS creates a caring community in a little slice of South County, in St. Louis, Missouri.

Bayless is thriving with outstanding academics, top notch leadership, and respect from high schools across Missouri for their growth over the past five years.

Thanks to the caring culture and emphasis on Respect and Responsibility, Bayless has received much recognition: Missouri and National School of Character. Missouri Athletic 5 Star Leadership school. One of the most diverse high schools in the state of Missouri. The “flagship” of the Bayless School District. Home of the 2016 State Champions in Hip Hop Dance. This is Bayless High School.

Discover more great ideas from National Schools of Character in our Schools of Character Magazines!

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Topics: Service learning, Caring Classrooms,, Caring Community, Community Involvement