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Make School’s Last Day Count

May 30, 2011 By

The anxious students started filing into the school gymnasium.

I don’t think they were so anxious about Community Pride Day, but more excited that it was the last day of school before summer break.

As they took their seats with nervous staff spread among them (nervous to try something completely new on the last day of school—the day known to have the most behavior problems), I figured I was going to be the only one overly excited about Community Pride Day. My nerves made my stomach turn to be in front of one of the hardest crowds to please, especially on the last day of school.

I shouted into the microphone to get their full attention, “Welcome to the last day of school!”

They shouted back with excitement. A good sign.

“More importantly…Welcome to Community Pride Day 2011!” I took my chances with this one, but was surprised by the amount of excitement, even if it was forced.

Then silence. A deep breath.

“My name is Mari, you obviously recognize me from the school office where I work, but when I’m not working in the office, you can find me out there—in my community.”

I continued to tell them about how easy it is to get involved in the community. And that our city relies on involvement from community members in order to thrive. And today, Community Pride Day, was going to be their chance to see what community involvement is all about.

Of course there was a little griping, “We have to do what?!”

Well, they had to show some community pride through simple service work in our rural Minnesota community, Windom.

After the students came in from a morning of picking up trash and pulling weeds throughout the city, they were pleasantly surprised to find out it was pretty fun. It makes it much more fun and less overwhelming when there are many hands helping. The feeling of accomplishment and giving back was worth the work.

The real surprise came in the afternoon when a handful of community businesses, groups and organizations came together to show these students what they do in the community, fair style. Each business, group and organization had a booth and they did an awesome job not only showcasing what they do, but making it fun.

Many booths had games, trivia, and free souvenirs. These kids were beaming with excitement about Windom! Even if it took free gifts and games to get them excited, the point of Community Pride Day was made—Windom is a great place to be and there are a lot of people making it a great place to be.

For a rural city, it is important to reach out to young people. They are the town's future.

Community Pride Day gave our future an opportunity to start thinking about how to make our community a better place and how to make these things that do exist in our community better. It becomes easier for students to get involved when they know how to become involved.

After the day came to a close, I had two high school students tap me on the shoulder, “Mari, can you help us?”
“Of course, what do you need?” I replied.

“How do we start a community garden? We also want a safe place for students to be able to walk to school, how do we do that?”

All day it was my purpose to show students how easy it is to become involved in the community to make a difference and those two students, even if it was only two, figured it out. I’d say Community Pride Day was a success. It was the most productive last day of school we have ever had.

I definitely wouldn’t be nervous about Community Pride Day 2012.

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