At Eldridge Park Elementary School we have been implementing an annual school theme for the past seven years.
The intention of the school theme is to connect a phrase or slogan that the students can carry with them for the entire school year to enhance connections to our monthly character traits, social skills and service learning projects.
2016-2017 School Theme: BE KIND AND ROCK ON
2010-2011: Take the High Road
This theme came from a song that was commissioned by a grant funded by the LTEF (Lawrence Towship Education Foundation). The popular choral composer, Jill Gallina, wrote the song "Take the High Road" for our district after learning about the strength of our character education program. She viewed pictures of a student inspired mural that was also funded by the LTEF. The mural depicted images drawn by students that represent the character traits taught in the building each year.
"A glimpse at the character mural that inspired our character theme of Take the High Road. This part of the mural shows perseverance."
Our character kick off began with a visit from the High School Marching Band who surprised the students by marching around the building and playing popular tunes. At that time the students came outside with their class puzzle piece which had been found in their classrooms the week previous week. Each puzzle piece had a positive message on it such as "make good choices" or "be kind to others". Our art teacher had constructed a large poster which held each puzzle piece. When the puzzle was completed, it created a path with ways to "Take the High Road" each and every day. This banner hung in the hallway all year as a reminder of the choices that students should make. Each child also wrote a goal for the school year on how they thought they might take the high road at EPS. These goals were displayed on a "road" in our hallway throughout the entire school year. Often we would check in with the students to determine if they were reaching their goals.
School Theme 2011-2012: Character Rocks, Stand Strong
Our second school theme was inspired by a slogan that is often used in our school, "Use Your Strong Side". Using your strong side means to make smart and strong choices that result in positive growth in our students.
Our character kickoff was quite exciting this year! Each classroom had a scavenger hunt over the week where they found four "artifacts" that would give them a clue to our character theme. The four clues were a rock, a heart with strong arms, Flash the Falcon (our school mascot) and an electric guitar. On morning announcements that Friday, our mascot Flash made a live appearance for the first time in our school. He introduced our school theme and then we played a video made by peer leaders from our middle school. Our middle school has a rock climbing wall, so we partnered with the physical education teacher there and had a walking trip for each grade level. When we arrived at the middles school, each class was prompted to work in a group for confidence, trust, and team building activities including the rock climbing wall.
Each student filled out and decorated a rock with a goal written on how they would stand strong that school year.
School Theme 2012-2013: Every Person Shines, so Be Bright!!
Our third school theme has been inspired by the initials of our school name. EPS was transformed into Every Person Shines. We liked the slogan of "Be Bright" as we felt in encompassed making great choices aligned with all of our character traits and social skills. For our character kickoff the students had a scavenger hunt where they found sun rays which were labeled with ways that students can "Be Bright". We surprised the students on the blacktop with a parade of shining stars comprised of school and community members who exemplify great character. The parade was led by a community bagpiper and ended with Flash and our school principal, Mrs. Robbins. The students brought their sun rays to the parade with them. Each class read their message and posted it on our character theme banner (displayed below). The students also honored each of the members of our parade with a shining star badge and a superstar cheer.
After the parade the students participated in grade level activities which reinforced trustworthiness, cooperation and respect. Some of the activities included Noodle House Building, Parachute Activities and Hula Hoop Activities. In addition each student wrote a "Star Goal" for the year of how they would "Be Bright". The goals are displayed in our main hallway.