September 8, 2020 was a day of meeting new teachers and classmates, starting new routines, and getting the school year started across the Shawnee Mission School District. Tuesday was the first day for students in grades 1-6, 7, 9, and 12.
While students attended school remotely, many first-day traditions centered around getting acquainted continued across the district.
Student Mentors Welcome New Students
Ayrianna Smith, senior, joined the Shawnee Mission Northwest Link Crew in welcoming freshmen to their first day of high school. Link Crew is a student leadership program that connects juniors and seniors to serve as mentors for high school freshmen. Middle and high schools have arranged events and activities for students new to the building to get acquainted with their school communities.
Link Leaders at SM Northwest like Smith spent time Tuesday helping mentor freshmen students on their very first day of high school. With all SMSD students starting school remotely, mentors and mentees spent some time in video chat meetings. Smith said she provided freshmen encouragement that has helped her during her high school years and some advice about not procrastinating.
“Just be proactive with your school work and commitments at your job or at home,” Smith said.
The day for freshmen continued with a virtual campus tour and assembly. They also had time to learn more about how to use Canvas and meet teachers. Seniors, like Smith, attended their own classes, too.
“It’s going great so far,” Smith added. “I think having school online is going to take a bit of getting used to but other than that I like it. Some of my hopes for the year is probably getting my computer issues set and getting my life together for after high school.”
Link Leader Kendall Toomay encouraged the Class of 2024 to be kind.
“We are all going through our different battles with the pandemic and the best you can do when it comes to being remote is always be kind, put a smile on your face, and get involved so only school feels as real as in person,” Toomay shared.
At many elementary schools across the district, teachers spent time helping students get to know their classmates.
In one example, some Broken Arrow Elementary teachers and students drew and described self-portraits and talked about how to help everyone feel welcome in class, no matter what learning model. Some also got started on class projects. In Jon Williamson’s fifth grade class, students were asked to begin building a fort using materials they had at home. The project was designed to be fun, collaborative, include science, technology, engineering, and math concepts. Williamson said eventually the concepts students use on this project will support their work to build a Rube Goldberg machine at home.
At Brookridge Elementary following the first day of school at early release, families came to pick up classroom supplies by grade level. Teachers had the opportunity to meet some of their students as they passed out materials.
“Today went really well, it was wonderful to see their smiling faces,” Shannon Johnston fourth grade teacher shared. “Today I shared details about me and tomorrow, students will each share five different things about themselves.”
Third grade teacher, Roger Nelson had his third graders share information about the following three topics:
1. Tell me your favorite place. It can be in your backyard or across the world
2. Tell me something about your family.
3. What do you like to do for fun or a hobby?