It’s an exciting time for students during elementary school. Figuring out colors and shapes, learning to read and write, being taught math and science is all a new part of life for the youngest full-time learners in the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek School District.
Principal Ginger Keeton and her staff know this all too well. But they also try to build the fun and excitement even more by helping students, teachers and families build a sense of community around the school.
In September, the school hosts a Kindergarten Scavenger Hunt, a First Grade Food Fest and a Second Grade Party on the Playground.
All told, there’s a little over 550 students attending Stephen Bell this year and the turnout at each of the events was stellar.
“We host these events to establish relationships with the parents and family members of our students and we like to do it right after the meet and greet,” Keeton said.
Keeton said the scavenger hunt for the kindergarteners is a great way for both students and families to explore the entire building, since most of the families have yet to spend any time in the building outside of the meet and greet.
“It’s great for them to see this through the children’s eyes,” Keeton said.
The first and second grade events serve to foster familiarity with the staff and relationships between the students and the parents. Keeton said between first and second grade there are typically anywhere between 25 and 55 new families that enter the district, so the peer-to-peer interaction after school hours is key.
“It really helps us build community and relationships across the board,” she said.
It also helps build a love for school and learning, thanks to the memories the students – and their families – are making.
“If you look back on your own education, your favorite memory probably isn’t a math lesson. You're probably recalling an event or a conversation, so that’s what we are trying to bring,” Keeton said.
She said the staff thoroughly enjoys putting on the events, and begins planning for them in May when they decide on the dates, the food trucks, and begin to gather community support.
It’s the culture that is being created that’s important when it comes to making these events happen.