JOHN DAY - Seeking to increase participation, parent-teacher conferences for students attending Grant Union High School will be mandatory this November.

"We think it's critical that parents, students and teachers communicate, and conferencing is one way to do that," said Principal Curt Shelley.

He hopes to see a greater turnout than last year's dismal showing of 40 percent in the fall and 30 percent in the spring.

The conferences are scheduled for Thursday and Friday, Nov. 4-5. No classes are held on those days.

Thursday's times are 7:45 a.m. to noon, 12:30 to 5 p.m. in the classrooms and 6-9 p.m. in the old gym. Friday's conferences are 8 a.m. to noon in the classrooms.

Shelley said letters will be mailed to parents, and he also will call the parents of each student to notify them of the event - "all 216 of them."

"If parents and student don't attend, it will be counted as an unexcused absence with a one-hour detention the following week,"he said.

He added that if parents can't attend, they should make arrangements with him, teacher Elizabeth Shelley or dean of students Jason Miller to fill in for them.

The Parental Access Support System is available through the Internet to help parents and students keep track of the students' progress in school. However, Shelley noted, "It's no substitute for in-person, eye-to-eye contact."

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