East Freshman School Transforms First Day

East Freshman School Transforms First Day
Posted on 08/23/2017
This is the image for the news article titled East Freshman School Transforms First DayEast freshman first dayFreshmen at Lakota East kicked off the school year in a very non-traditional way. They spent a short time going through their schedules and visiting each class, but after that the ninth-graders spent the day doing small and large group activities, being energized by the message of some guest speakers, and coming together as the Class of 2021 during a special pep assembly.

“We made the change because we want the focus of our campus to be on creating a culture where students feel connected to our school, Lakota East High School overall, and to one another,” said Lakota East Associate Principal Robert Burnside. “We believe that if we provide the type of environment where students want to be at school and believe in themselves, one another, and their teachers, they will surpass our expectations both academically and behaviorally.”

Freshman wearing East shirtsThe activities began with a welcome assembly featuring guest speakers Nick Jackson and Alyssa Nickols. They spoke to the students about valuing one another and appreciating that everyone brings something that is needed to the school. The speakers talked about overcoming the challenges that we all face every day, and to realize that we define who we are -- and to not allow other people to place us in a negative box. 

After the welcome assembly students went on a scavenger hunt instead of a typical building tour. Teachers led small group ice-breaker sessions, and large group activities focused on team building. Students learned that in order to be successful, everyone needed to participate and contribute, and that teams need to encourage and value the contributions of each person. 

The day concluded with a pep rally that was focused on enjoying school. Varsity cheerleaders and high school marching band members came to the freshman campus to lead the rally. “Our goal was to make our students feel connected to main campus and build school spirit,” said Burnside. Each student received a Lakota East t-shirt and the shirts had one mission – to make sure every student could feel connected.  

The departure from the traditional first day seems to be working. Burnside said that the staff feedback was great –  the teachers were energized along with the students, and they really enjoyed the focus on getting to know the students. “Ultimately, we wanted the day to be about positive relationships, and I believe that tone was set,” said Burnside. “One week in, we are already seeing the benefits; our students are doing a great job meeting our expectations for them.”


The Class of 2021 is gathered for an assembly on the first day of school with every student wearing a Lakota East t-shirt provided by the school's PTSO.

The large group activities at East Freshman were truly team-building in nature. Students shown here are working in groups to move a ball into a bucket using varying pieces of cardboard. A second activity involved stacking cups using four strings attached to a rubber band.