It’s Not a Pep Rally, It’s a Hope Rally

One of the most important things in my school culture is the time that the entire school spends together every Friday morning. I’d love to say I invented the idea of a morning assembly for elementary students, but I didn’t. I actually learned about it from my oldest son’s elementary principal. I remember her presenting it as a way to get students excited about school and ensure they were there on time.

I saw the idea evolve through several schools in that district. I didn’t necessarily buy into the idea at the time. They typically involved things that were usually done on the announcements, but now live and then expanded to student celebrations and a song.

When I came to my new school, one of the most urgent needs was the transformation of our school culture. They had been a campus where each team had a different school shirt, where they had never done anything with the entire school at the same time, and they were desperate to become unified.

I tried to follow the number one rule that they teach you in principal school (don’t change anything the first year!) but what could I do? They wanted this. They needed it! It became our tradition and weekly time together as a whole school. It became Eagle Shuffle.

I have heard our Eagle Shuffle referred to as a pep rally for elementary school. The thing is, I don’t think that is an accurate description. It’s really more of a “hope rally.”  During Eagle Shuffle the purpose is to be together, to celebrate our successes and to saturate our students’ minds with positive feelings about education.  I want them to have so much positive imprinting about school and hope for their future that it carries them all the way through graduation—from college!

Marketing agencies constantly play to children as consumers. They use bright colors, catchy jungles, and fun to sell their cereal, television shows, music, toys, and video games. Can we afford to do any less when it comes to education? I believe we must do the same thing with our students and public education if we hope to keep them as our clientele through 13 years of school. This is our product, and we only have ourselves to blame for poor marketing if nobody is buying it.

 We are teaching our students who to stop and celebrate themselves and each other, we are teaching them about cultural proficiency and how to value one another. We are teaching them about grit and growth mindset and naming examples we have seen. We are teaching them there is always time to stop and sing and cheer. I need to know that when the day comes where they question whether education is worth it, they will remember their days at Degan and Eagle Shuffle and dig deep to find their grit and growth mindset and know that they can always make it a great day because it is always their choice.

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