Non-Traditional First Day of School - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Islander Times News

Non-Traditional First Day of School

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Posted: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 3:41 pm

Students were greeted with a new kind of first day promoting CHS TRIBE values.

When students at Coronado High School returned to school after summer vacation, they expected to spend the first day in their chairs, receiving textbooks and listening to teachers rush through course syllabi. Many were surprised by the ASB-sponsored “non-traditional” first day of school, which involved hands-on team building activities centered around the theme of TRIBE (teamwork, respect, integrity, bonding and excellence).

Junior Class President Cheyne Ostrander, who planned the event in conjunction with ASB President Lauren McBride, said that she was inspired to host an alternative first day after she and the ASB class attended a summer leadership camp in Santa Barbara. “We talked to students from many different schools and learned that almost every other school in California does a non-traditional first day,” said Ostrander. “It seemed like a wonderful way to ease back into school and give students an opportunity to nurture relationships with their peers and teachers, all while creating a sense of TRIBE from day one.”

The planning process for the non-traditional first day began in early August. After brainstorming ideas for each activity, Ostrander and McBride presented a tentative itinerary to the entire faculty. Ostrander spent her last week of summer creating an instructional packet for the teachers.

The activities ranged from a school-wide scavenger hunt to bonding games and a social media swap in which students reviewed each others’ Facebook profiles as a college admissions officer might. “The day definitely made it easier for me to ease into the school year,” said senior Kyla Orth. “I was able to be stress-free on the first day of school and focus on getting to know my classmates and teachers rather than worrying about all the homework I already had to complete for the next day.”

Some students, especially upperclassmen, felt that they didn’t get as much out of the day as ASB intended. “All of the exercises were too surface level, and at this point, I know all of my peers on at least surface level so no deep ‘ice’ was broken,” said senior Lavanya Mittal. “Today wasn’t the best, and I honestly would have preferred hearing about the classes I am taking, but it is a jumpstart for future first days.”

Senior Mary Erin Hakes thought that a non-traditional day would be better suited in the middle of the year. “Everyone would know each other a little better and would be more comfortable talking and interacting with their classmates and teachers,” she said.

Vice Principal Stephen Abbott commended the faculty for being open to the idea of sacrificing classroom time. “I think that the biggest fans of the day were the freshmen,” he said. “We all forget how intimidating it is to be a freshman coming into high school, but I think that having that introductory day as a buffer was a relief to many of them. It’s tough to give up a full day of instruction for anything, but it was well worth it for the freshmen class.”

Ostrander said that she would love to plan another non-traditional first day of school next year. At a school board meeting on August 21, CHS teacher Tamara O’Brien thanked ASB for giving her “the best first day of school since kindergarten.”

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