In an effort to boost morale among middle school students who are navigating virtual learning, the Associated Student Body Leadership Club, members of the Parent Teacher Student Association and teachers held a Virtual Spirit Week and distributed Welcome packs to Santa Barbara Junior High students in a drive-through pick up celebration.
Each day this past week had a theme from the ASB Club, encouraging students to show school spirit and participate. They had “bring your pet” day, sports day, hat day, pajama day and school colors day.
Prizes were awarded to the most spirited homerooms, as well as the best-costumed individuals.
Then, Friday afternoon students drove by to pick up their Welcome packs from teachers and PTSA members. Each pack consisted of a branded face mask, water bottle, day timer, stylus, treats such as chips and candy, a note pad and a welcome note in English and Spanish, all inside a SBJH drawstring bag.
“We know things aren’t the way they (the students) want them to be, especially for middle schoolers,” said Caroline Harrah, the president of PTSA. “Middle school is a transformative experience whether the kids know it or not, and a big part of it is socializing.”
Ms. Harrah has a son, Chase, who is currently in seventh grade at SBJH. She told the News-Press he “seems to be doing fine with remote learning, but it’s definitely not his preference.”
“He was excited about flag football and those types of activities,” Ms. Harrah said. “This is supposed to be the time he’s branching out.”
However, this is the reason behind the spirit week and Welcome packs, and the PTSA president said they plan on rolling out other programs throughout the year to support the students in their new remote learning and connect with them.
“We just wanted to send a message of encouragement and support,” she said.
James Koenig, the new principal of the school, said the drive-through pick up went “really well” and teachers, administration, staff and parents were amazed at the amount of cars coming through, which he said was “easily in the hundreds.”
“It was a really wonderful way to celebrate the kids and their futures and end the week on a high note,” he told the News-Press.
The principal added that there was great participation with spirit week as well.
“It was a great way to build some culture and bond with some kids at least virtually,” he said. “Today was just the cherry on top.”
He said teachers and administration have been working and training to build confidence in the kids from home so they “feel more comfortable sharing” in Zoom classes.
“It seems to be that it’s more intimate, interestingly enough,” he said. “It can be a little tricky for the kids at times.”
Mr. Koenig concluded saying staff and PTSA will continue to collaborate to support SBJH students.