Arts, Fun, and Academics on the First Day of School

A tradition that I started many years ago is to have some sort of concert/celebration for the first day of school. It is crucial to teach students the importance of community and the need to celebrate learning. Obviously, it is also simply good fun to finish the day with a concert as it sends the message that school can truly be an enjoyable place. In fact, it should be.

We have had Jeff Warner in before but not for a while, so the current Harold Martin School student body had not heard him. Jeff is a consummate folk singer with a rich background in the field, a man who can actually make his living singing, playing, recording, and teaching music. Years ago we hired him as the HMS Artist-in-Residence as well. I even had the chance to join him for his concert for a double banjo rendition of “Oh Susanna”.

There was a period in my life in the late 80s and early 90s when I formed a musical partnership with my good friend (and now fellow Principal) Jim Eaves. We both worked at the same school, he as a counselor and I as a classroom teacher, and we had a good run for a few years as a “Kids Music Duo”, playing in schools, festivals, and recording an album. I think this adventure gave us good experience for the Principal life. It certainly reminds us that music, fun, and community all have a place in our schools.

I believe in the power of assemblies and gathering as a school community for many reasons. I know teachers do as well and most are skillful at integrating the assembly themes into their classroom curriculum. Below, you’ll see a chart that second grade teacher Joan Follansbee wrote which includes her morning message and a brief poll asking which part of the concert most appealed to her students.

I was observing when Mrs. Follansbee led this math discussion on comparing data. The beauty is that she was able to integrate an activity that the students loved with skills the students need.

Here’s to a school year full of the arts, plenty of fun, and academic growth.

(Click on the picture for a larger view)

2 comments Add yours
  1. While not as exciting, we started the year with a community gathering. Since I can’t play banjo and am a perpetual beginner on the trumpet, we held a pep rally for the teachers.

    After some welcoming notes, I sent the staff out of the room. Then, I announced them a s they returned to the room. The kids welcomed them with cheers and shouts.

    It was a great celebration of our community.

    Maybe next year, you and Jim Eaves will come to Wolcott so we can jam for the kids.

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