First Two Days Back at East, West

Relationships Trump Curriculum at East, West on First Days Back
Posted on 08/22/2019
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First day fun at East and West features school logos and photos taken on first day“What can you do on day one that has your kids running back on day two?” posed Lakota East Principal Suzanna Davis at Lakota’s all-staff convocation. Both Lakota high schools answered this question with an exciting line-up that kept students and staff on their feet and engaged with one another all day long.

Not one single syllabus was handed out at either school the first two days back from summer break. Instead, they focused on building relationships and setting a strong foundation for the year ahead.

“Relationships are the cornerstone of building culture in a school or anywhere else for that matter,” said Lakota West Principal Elgin Card. “If kids know you care about them and are there for them, they will work hard. Our goal is also to not only build a great culture at Lakota West, but to leave them with this understanding as they move on to their next journey in life.”

“Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Davis said. “At Lakota East, staff members and students together set the stage for a fantastic year by focusing on what truly matters – the strength of our relationships with each other. It was truly magical to see those bonds form right before my eyes, and all as a result of programming planned by our students and for their peers.”

Students at both campuses did spend some time each day in their classrooms on a shortened bell schedule, where teachers focused on building their own communities and circles of support. Spirited school-wide activities also set the tone for a year built on engaged learning and mutual respect and support among students and staff.   

At West, rotations included a scavenger hunt and a rock/paper/scissors challenge. Over at East, the National Honor Society (NHS) planned the first day’s activities, which included options like ping pong, karaoke, cornhole and basketball. Both schools hosted discussions surrounding the E + R = O model (which encourages students to press pause and consider the consequences of their actions).

To end the first day, West students had time to move throughout the building finding activities that interested them. There were nearly 20 different activities ranging from ping pong to writers open mic to visiting with therapy dogs.

Students like sophomore Madison Voss really enjoyed the new way to start school. “It lets me get to know my teachers more and build relationships with them, but also lets me build relationships with my classmates.”

At East, NHS organized the school’s first-ever Amazing Race competition to end their day. Students moved among 20-plus different teambuilding stations, ranging from cup pong to cup stacking to relay races. They worked together as a class to master each challenge in as little time as possible.

“It’s been a really cool team bonding thing. I don’t really know half of my classmates, but we’ve been able to spend some time together and we’re rocking it!” said East senior Nick Eddy.

On the second day, each school gathered together in the gym for a spirited pep assembly.

Principal Card’s favorite part of the start of school: “Seeing our kids and staff smiling, laughing and having fun together. We consider ourselves a #FirebirdFamily and we started growing our family on day one. Like all families you have good and bad times, but when the going gets tough, we are going to have each other’s back!”

Because no family gathering is complete without a family photo, both schools posed for a unique group picture that captured all 2,000-plus students and staff together in one shot.