SOME NOTES ACROSS THE DISTRICT
We are already entering the last week of September as this article is placed in the Record. The school year has gotten off to a very good start with great things happening in classrooms and for students. Our systems seem to be functioning very efficiently and effectively. I would like to cover a few topics in this week’s column.
Last week, September 18 through September 22, was Homecoming Week across the ROCORI District. As we finished the week, we are essentially halfway through the fall activities season!
There were activities scheduled throughout the Homecoming week, especially at the secondary level. The events included specific dress days (like America Day, Camo/Blaze Orange Day and School Spirit/Jersey Day), the annual Variety Show with the selection of the homecoming king and queen, competitions among the students with Powderpuff Football and Ironman Volleyball, the Homecoming parade, the Homecoming dance, and, of course the football game.
After a few years of having the Homecoming events finish on Saturday, the parade and football game moved back to Friday evening. The parade returned to its normal route near the District Education Facility and culminating near the ROCORI School campus.
Overall, there was a lot of school spirit and community pride demonstrated during the week. Although not everyone participates in the dress-up days completely, there were a lot of students and staff dressed according to the style of the particular day throughout the week.
A special note of thanks is extended to the RHS Student Senate and adviser Brian Herrig. The members of the Student Senate take charge of most of the Homecoming activities, the identification of the various events, and guide the Homecoming process!
TOBACCO-FREE, DRUG-FREE, WEAPON-FREE
With school back in full session, it is good to take time to remember some key safety issues—particularly those around school buildings and buses! School zones, in the state of Minnesota, are alcohol, drug and weapon-free zones. Most school districts have also adopted policies prohibiting the use of tobacco in school buildings and, often, on school grounds.
At ROCORI, we comply with these expectations—our buildings and grounds are alcohol and tobacco free areas! Although most people fully understand the buildings being tobacco-free, it seems harder to understand that the grounds are also tobacco-free! It is disappointing to come across cigarette butts in the parking lot or areas outside our buildings because it indicates that someone does not understand the expectation. All parts of the district—buildings and grounds—are tobacco-free and we expect visitors to abide by the expectations!
Drug-free and weapon-free zones are determined by Minnesota law. There is an expectation in statute that neither drugs or weapons should be within 300 feet of school buildings. These are all imposed in order to provide safe environments!
BULLY PREVENTION ISSUES
The start of the school year is often the time schools make concerted efforts to highlight policies and procedures on fire safety, emergency procedures, bully prevention efforts and other safety policies. Many drills and procedures are implemented or practiced, especially during the first month of school, to help students get into patterns of behavior or to reinforce expectations.
Bully prevention efforts, in particular, rely not only on school activity but involve parent and community engagement to be successful. We have a lot of things in place to discourage bullying behavior. The is clear district policy in regard to bullying activity. We have signs and reminders across the district to encourage appropriate behaviors and reporting of unwelcome or bullying behavior. Teachers offer instruction on topics like kindness, respect, appropriate behaviors, and bully resistance.
Students are encouraged to speak up when they experience or see bullying activities. Although it can be difficult to report, the most helpful thing in reducing bullying is for the behaviors to be reported to an adult who can intervene!
October is designated as Bully Prevention Month. Classrooms and programs will emphasize bully prevention as the month unfolds.
Bus safety, both student knowledge and public attentiveness, is essential to a safe school setting. Students are annually required to review bus safety information including the safe zones, emergency exits and procedures, and fundamental rules of transportation.
As a district, we have students go through bus safety training and procedures in the month of September. Our bus contractors also bring vehicles to our parking lots so that students can have direct instruction on bus safety guidelines and can walk through evacuation procedures.
Adults should also remember some key safety issues! Drivers and visitors to our campuses should be attentive to the surroundings (many of our areas include green space and playgrounds) and we encourage drivers to slow down in school zones.
Drivers need to remember to watch for buses as they move about and be attentive to their signals—especially the flashing lights and stop arms. The state of Minnesota takes Stop Arm violations very seriously because of student safety concerns! Drivers should remember that buses typically don’t slow down or stop unless there are students present—if you encounter a bus that is slowing or stopped, most likely students are there!
There are a lot of things that happen during the month of September as we settle into a new school year! We have many things to celebrate but also things to offer as instruction and reminders! To make things work well for everyone, we need student, staff and community support on issues like safety, bully prevention, and transportation! If we all work together, we can accomplish great things!