Schools embrace virtual pep rallies to boost spirit during shutdown

Dive Brief:

  • Administrators at Paris Elementary in Aurora, Colorado, hold weekly virtual assemblies like pep rallies to keep positive school culture going during the coronavirus pandemic, Chalkbeat reports
  • The meetings have had some road bumps, including students and administrators struggling with mute buttons and unfamiliar usernames trying to join in. 
  • Ninety-eight percent of Paris Elementary’s 340 students qualify for subsidized lunches, and English is a second language to more than 75% of them. The rallies are one method of keeping families, many of which are under duress due to lost jobs and wages, connected to school during the shutdown. The school also tries to connect families to resources like mental health professionals. 

Dive Insight:

As with many other schools and districts nationwide, Paris Elementary teachers aren’t entering letter grades but are giving feedback and tracking whether students are advancing or falling behind. The school’s first post-shutdown efforts were focused on securing online access for all students. So far, 42% of students have participated in online learning.

Other schools are holding spirit-building rallies, as well. Louisa County Public Schools, for example, is challenging students and teachers to post photos featuring themselves in different themes each day, such as pajama day and school colors day, in an online version of spirit week.

Likewise, students in Chicago’s West Aurora High School choir learned their individual parts to “The Road Home” by Stephen Paulus and worked together to create the music. Their teacher then used technology to sync up their voices, resulting in a finely tuned final collaboration.

The purpose behind a virtual spirit week is to provide students with a sense of normalcy during an unusual period of time, Matthew Scialdone, a teacher in Wake County, North Carolina, told the Raleigh News & Observer.

In a gesture of spirit directed toward the 2020 graduating class, Washington state high school football fields illuminated stadium lights on April 17 at 8:20 p.m. (20:20 military time) for 20 minutes and 20 seconds. The movement used the hashtag #BeTheLightWA.

In another recognition of seniors, Summit High School, in Colorado, will hold a virtual senior prom on April 25 through a YouTube broadcast, complete with a DJ. A prom king and queen will be announced during the online event.

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