When I was in high school (“when I was your age…”), our stands were packed with cheering students for every basketball game, decked out in their red-and-blue best and calling themselves the “Monticello Maniacs.” Our sports teams celebrated gameday with spirit days (schoolgirl day and bro day were crowd favorites) and secret pals (essentially “Secret Santa” that lasted the whole season). Each major dance was prefaced with an “asking week,” where the boys would bring flowers & sing songs & do whatever it took to ask a girl to be their date. (Including this link may be against my better judgment, but here’s a video of my very own “promposal.”)
What do all of these events have in common? Yes, they were fun & absolutely highlights of my childhood…but they were also all student-driven initiatives. No teacher or principal or coach told us to plan these events. It was us. We came up with an idea & drummed up support to execute it. And we loved every minute of it.
I loved high school. And I want my kids to love high school, too. Many of my students are pumped up to graduate…but it’s because they want to get out. They want to leave John Marshall in the dust. While the circumstances surrounding their education are drastically different than mine were (and in many cases, much heavier), I believe that my students can learn to love high school, too. Their days can be filled with lightness & frivolity that’s healthy and student-driven, too.
My job isn’t to come up with crazy ideas for my kids to execute, or to tell them about my high school days in hopes that they were replicate the experience. In truth, it doesn’t matter what I think. My job is to empower my kids to come up with their own crazy schemes — to take ownership of these four years.
How can I accomplish this task — how can I accomplish this vision? I see a few initiatives, a few structures that can support this type of student engagement. I’ll start there — see what’s happening, see how I can help.
I hope my hallways aren’t filled with “promposals” and “Monticello Maniacs” — I bet my students can come up with something even more creative.