BACK TO SCHOOL: Energy bus drops off at JVS

“We’re getting on the energy bus and we are going to be positive!” exclaimed Jill Petitti, principal of the Lorain County Joint Vocational School.

Nearly 1,020 students will fill the vocational school’s hallways on Aug. 28 for the first day of classes, and Petitti’s focus this year is to channel positive energy.

Dabbling with a new idea, she assigned the book “The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy” by Jon Gordon as summer reading for her administrative team and teachers.

“It’s the first time I’ve given out a book,” Petitti said. “I’m trying to bring positive energy through. (The book) talks about how you’re driving your own bus. If you want to be positive, you can filter it off to the other passengers on your bus.”

As we talked, she grabbed her copy off the table and shook it vigorously in the air. “Don’t let the energy vampires suck the positive energy out of you!”

To her, the concept is simple: She wants to see kids safe, healthy, and smiling in the JVS hallways. If students can follow the “5 P’s” — prompt, prepared, positive, polite, and productive — she assures they’ll have a happy and successful year.

The school serves kids from 13 districts in the county, and Petitti feels she can use the large student base to make an impact on all of Lorain County.

When leaving the JVS campus, people will see signs reminding them to drive safely. The school has long participated in safe driving initiatives, but will put more into the effort this year.

In partnership with the Ohio State Highway Patrol and AAA, every month will underscore a theme, from road rage to seat belt use.

“Lorain County has a lot of fatalities,” Petitti said. “We’ve got to stop that number. Students leave campus and play the ‘How fast can I go?’ game on (Rt.) 58 and it makes me nervous.”

Students never leave home without their phones, so a selfie contest will accompany the initiative. Each month, students can submit a photo that highlights the month’s message and the winner will make a radio appearance.

“If I get on the radio to share the month’s message, sure they might listen. But if a kid their age gets on, they’ll say, ‘Oh, I know him! He said Amherst,’ or ‘He said North Ridgeville.’ There’s more of a connection,” Petitti said.

Additional activities include a distracted driving simulator during lunchtime, messages on television screens throughout the building, and student-read facts and statistics on the morning announcements.

Other changes this year include $3 million worth of renovations for health sciences and early childhood education classrooms on the basement level. New academic rooms and computer labs are also being built to make use of the unused space.

Only two new teachers will join the staff, which is oddly low compared to past years, Petitti said. Mary Rehor will take the role of intervention specialist and Thomas Galucci will teach English.

The JVS will continue its iPad initiative this year, getting the devices out to more students during orientation.

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.

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By Laurie Hamame

Lorain County JVS

Principal: Jill Petitti

Start time: 7:50 a.m.

Release time: 2:14 p.m.

Number of students: 1,020 (with 300 satellite students)

Grades: 9-12