For the last three years my Renaissance Action Team (student leadership team) has helped administration and staff put on a New Years Party in August. The first year was a complete a total shock to the students and the event left many dazed and confused about what took place. The second year was even better, but the best was this year. Here is how it worked:
I purchased tee shirts with our school theme on the front for every staff member to wear the first day of school. I then asked them to line the walkway leading to the front entrance as well as the lobby, creating a welcome tunnel for the students. One of the teachers on the Renaissance Action Team purchased noise makers, New Years hats, glasses, necklaces, and other items to distribute and we also had a live DJ in the lobby playing some of the hottest (and school appropriate) music… at 7:00 in the morning!
This year we added something new: the name of every student and staff member (over 2600) was displayed throughout the lobby on cutouts that symbolized our 2010-2011 theme, “It’s Up to Us!” It was awesome!
Students were greeted by excited staff members as they exited the buses and cars and entered the building. We gave out many high fives, “Happy New Year” shouts, and other words of encouragement. To see the looks on the students’ faces was priceless!
I often get asked why we do this and the answer is quite simple: it’s a great way to celebrate the start of the school year and to create a climate of celebration. School is a place of opportunity, a place for new beginnings, and a place for development. If we are not excited about being there then we can’t expect our students to be either.
Each year, I receive a number of positive emails or comments from parents after they see the staff lined up outside the building and hear about the event from their students. What do you do to kickoff the school year or a new semester?