Posted by: principalsintraining | August 22, 2016

Initial Inhalation (The Year’s First, Indelible Moments)

Day One is a rock concert; sound check complete thanks to Kit. 

DNA for Day One of school as a community gathering comes from my years as A.P. at Sir Francis Drake High School. Everyone is all stressed out on the first day – so why not change the rules for how we gather for the first time?

Okay so the playbook might read (just curious though: what were people feeling the day before?):

Take note of daybreak. Pause, breathe, stand still. Many months of thinking are coming to a close today…boom or bust!

What is the energy in the hallways? Pause, smile, laugh, photobomb.

The custodial crew has been quietly, invisibly laboring for two months – now greeted by a breaking wave of noise and nervous energy (from adolescents and adults). Pause, hug, selfie. (Amanuel was a student at the school where I first taught, just arrived from Eritrea in 2000. A year later we both ended up at a neighboring school and he ran on my cross country team, going to the State finals twice.)

Ingredient one to break-of-new-year community gathering: student speakers. ASB cabinet feeling nervous – then delivering gems of wisdom on the stage (Cougar never less than happy/fierce – the keeper of a transcendent mindset!).

Morning assembly means getting hyped up for Draft Day! It’s beyond belief, but we have TEN #1 picks in the Hall Middle teacher draft! (Cue music)

What words lead us into the new year – offered by new Assistant Principal Tenisha Tate. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Morning assembly complete, students meet their teachers for short class periods. Mr. Metz (new) shares that he likes teaching Science – but he likes doing Science better, so get ready to get outdoors (kids fired up by this evidenced by later hallway conversations).

IMG_5377 IMG_5400

What are the first words your students will see when they walk onto campus? Into our classrooms?

Day One means bringing in (and depending on) the community. PTA parent volunteers put on superhero capes, get loads of protein at Costco and put on a barbecue for entire campus.

Just one of MANY small acts of greatness. A school year nudged out of its shell with smiles, protein and mustard.

If you haven’t heard of Kevin Laue then I’m happy to introduce you. Unless you are an NBA center he will make you feel small – and he will keep 520 volcanically active students church-mouse quiet for an hour with his story. (Funny that we were all-tournament at the same winter basketball classic hosted by his alma mater – only 18 years apart…)

Short for a day.

Post speaker, we gather in grade levels to talk about OUR stories. The challenges that pushed us to be better.

Day One means going outside, doing something unexpected, making a memory – jumping off the ledge of the familiar!


Mount Tamalpais gives the nod that the day is over.

And what did the students think?

I liked when the inspirational speaker came he was so cool!  I think it was really funny when you went next to him and I realize how huge he was, also I think it was funny when he used “THE POWER OF THE NUB!!!!!” on you.



  1. […] Go Big on Day One of school […]

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