Staff members go above and beyond to help school

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Staff members go above and beyond to help school

Lydia Seo

Two staff members are involved with security, while one manages college visits.

Alarm senses tingling
Heroes
The gym was dark, cold and completely quiet when woodshop teacher Ted Shinta arrived. He headed for the alarm to reset it. Suddenly, he caught sight of movement on the second floor: A couple of students were stealing the camera that was used for video announcements. At that moment, the students saw him and immediately began to run. Shinta followed. By the time Shinta called the police, the students had escaped.

That night two years ago was one of the many times that Shinta, along with attendance administrator Calvin Wong, came to school after being called by Sonitrol Security Systems. From about 11 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., the alarms on all of the school’s doors and inside its buildings are triggered by sounds or opening doors. Sonitrol, the alarm system company that the school contracts, contacts either Shinta or Wong, who decide whether or not the circumstances demand police attention. If the police are involved, they must act as representatives for the school and assist officers.

Shinta is first in the order because he lives nearest to the school. He receives multiple calls weekly, sometimes waking up in the early morning hours to do so.

“A lot of times — I would say 90 percent of the time — it’s a teacher or somebody [else] who comes to school and doesn’t turn the alarm off, and then they go into [a] room,” Shinta said. “Especially on the weekends.”

Major incidents such as the camera theft or other break-ins used to occur about once or twice every month. According to both Shinta and Wong, the frequency of such incidents has decreased to about once a year for the past two years. However, whether there be minor or major causes, both follow the call of duty at all times.

“The latest I ever got a phone call was two in the morning… on a weekend,” Wong said.

Shinta recalls similar incidents that called him to school on days that would have otherwise been spent away from school, such as Thanksgiving. No matter the time or occasion, Shinta and Wong are ready to keep the school safe for its students.

“The reason I do it, mainly, is because I live close by to the school, and I’m concerned about the school,” Shinta said.

Colleges, assemble

Almost every box in Miriam Taba’s personal calendar is filled with the names of various colleges and timeframes: The row of college banners behind her desk reflects the large number of colleges that Taba has interacted with. For seven and a half years, Taba has worked at the Career Center and expanded her knowledge of these colleges, helped students plan for their futures and managed the college visits that occur during the application period. Colleges from around the country and even foreign countries contact her to schedule informational meetings with the students.

Taba schedules 70 to 80 colleges every year, most of which are private and out-of-state schools. She attends all of the college visits that she hosts, which amount to one or two — and occasionally up to six meetings — daily.

“It’s wise to [attend every meeting] because oftentimes, if there’s a problem or you need to get a student into the school, it’s good to know the representative … and the college,” Taba said.

Although a few colleges are unable to fit their meetings into Taba’s packed calendar, Taba manages her schedule so that nearly all of the colleges that request visits to the school are able to meet the students and expose them to the different educational possibilities that are available at their schools.

Taba finds it important to learn more about different colleges so that she has more knowledge to share with the students, such as the qualities colleges look for in applicants. Several colleges that schedule visits may be less known but offer financial aid and many career-oriented opportunities.

“Sometimes there are no students [at the meetings],” Taba said. “I still do sit down and talk with the rep and find out, ‘Why would our students want to choose their school?’ ”

She smiles when she thinks of the wide variety of passionate college representatives who she has met throughout the years, some of whom are MVHS alumni or have relatives who are also representatives.

“I like this job,” Taba said. “I find it interesting, learning about all [of the different colleges].”

Along with organizing the college visits, Taba occasionally meets with students and their parents to advise them on their college plans; she also informs students of summer programs, scholarships, and job opportunities that assist with college application and admission. With her vast collection of knowledge regarding colleges, Taba works to help the students achieve their aspirations for their futures.