Bullard High's principal says cellphone free campus has led to positive changes

Jessica Harrington Image
Saturday, January 27, 2024
Phone-free Bullard High sees positive change, principle says
Bullard High students were required to lock away their phones last school year and now the principal is praising the positive change it's brought.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It wasn't an idea that most students at Bullard High welcomed.

"Nobody liked it. I didn't like it at first." Senior Alina Covarrbias said.

Beginning last school year, students were required to lock their phones in Yonder pouches at the start of first period.

The phones have to remain in the pouch throughout the school day.

They can only be unlocked by a magnetic device that teachers have.

The goal is to keep students focused on learning and not on their phones.

Ninth-grade algebra teacher Tiffanie Alarcon thinks it's made a difference.

"This has been one of the highest grading years I've ever had. I've had very, very few Ds or Fs in -- across all my classes."

She says having phones locked away is definitely helping.

But the program has hit some bumps.

Students need to keep track of their pouch, but not every student remembers to bring it.

And even if they do, some students find ways around the rules.

"Honestly, I couldn't tell you that there's a whole bunch of people that use their Yonder pouch -- almost everyone always has it on them, but not everyone puts it in there." Senior Leilah Moore said.

Principal Armen Torigian says he's the first to admit it could be a better system.

Teachers don't always require students to lock up their phones as long as they're put away.

Students have put old phones or calculators in the pouch to keep their phones accessible.

"They've just been pretty creative on trying to find ways to try to get past the rule." Torigian said.

But he says the $30,000 program is working and is making a difference despite the hiccups.

"Our test scores have gone up, grades have gone up, engagement has gone up in classrooms. A lot of teachers will tell you students are more focused." Torigian said.

Teachers believe the system sets the standard that phones are not welcome in class.

He says there's room to grow, but if he had to grade how they're doing, they're passing.

"I would say I give us a B, and it's nothing on the teachers, it's nothing on administrators, it's just -- it's a new program." Torigian said.

Teachers say they hope to continue to see this program improve; one way they believe that's possible is through increased parental support.

For news updates, follow Jessica Harrington on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.