The start of a new school year is full of possibility and promise but can also be a little intimidating for students and parents alike. With the anticipation of returning to the classroom full-time after three years of remote learning, there is a range of feelings this year ––shyness, jitters, and excitement. This year, for the first time, fourth graders will attend school in their classrooms.
All of these big feelings call for a big occasion—the Common Hope Back to School Festival!
Common Hope wants students to have the tools and resources that will allow them to reach their full potential and be excited about the year ahead. The back-to-school festivals are a time when students are welcomed back on-site, school supplies are delivered, and staff share programs and benefits included in their partnership with Common Hope.
The annual festival brings people together and builds relationships.
The staff has noted over the last two years that they have seen a rise in entire families attending events together. This is a promising observation because when all members of the family are committed to education, it can increase a student’s success.
At the festival, families participated in various activities:
- Group yoga as an ice breaker to help recenter and de-stress.
- Meeting with a social worker to review and assess their family goals.
- A preventative health screening for height, weight, vision, blood pressure, and a blood test for diabetes. (New this year, this activity was added to establish a baseline for each person and appropriate follow-up care by the health team where necessary).
- Taking a new school photo.
- Writing a note to their sponsors to kick off the year.
Students were excited to update their sponsors on their lives, families, and goals. Sometimes it’s hard for students to know what to write, but the staff reassured them that their updates were worth sharing. “It was awesome to see the students brimming with ideas of what they were going to write to their sponsors,” shared Luis, Scholarships Administrator.
The back-to-school festivals were an excellent time to connect or reconnect. For many students and staff members, this was the first time they met in person after years of virtual connection! Many students shared that it was nice to finally put a face to the name of their tutors. One student stopped in his tracks when he heard a familiar voice. Instantly, he recognized the man as the voice behind many of his tutoring sessions.
Many of the teachers were excited to see this year’s seniors and have the chance to tell them: “We’ll see you at graduation,” “Good luck in the new school year,” and “Give it all you’ve got; we are here to support you.”
Rebecca Sanborn, Country Director, shared that she is most excited to have ALL students return to the classroom. That feeling is mutual between students, parents, teachers, and staff!
“As a Common Hope student, you can learn, and learning is something that can never be taken away from you. We welcome you to participate in the activities and programs Common Hope offers and ask you to use the spaces for your continued learning and enjoyment. We welcome your suggestions for activities and programs that you are interested in participating in and being a part of,” Rebecca Sanborn shared with students.
Most students are excited to return to the classroom and after the festival, they are a little bit more prepared to have a great first day of school! In particular, the students set to graduate this year could hardly contain their excitement for full-time face-to-face classes during their last year of studies.
Common Hope wishes all students the best of luck and hopes they all have a fun and fantastic new school year!