Sterling elementary school principals want to make students feel at home during the 2006-2007 school year.
Algonkian Elementary School is adorned with its school colors, red and black. A "Welcome" banner hangs over the doorway.
On Friday, teachers dressed in matching black sweaters. Principal Heidi Latham, dressed in a black sweater and red Puma sneakers, walked through the halls and popped her head into kindergarten, first- and second-grade classrooms.
"Happy Friday," she said.
She greeted every student by their first name and asked about their families and their pets. Students often greeted her with hugs.
"We are family," she said.
That’s what the school theme is this year.
Algonkian Elementary School teachers and students kicked off the year last week with a pep rally. Latham talked about the importance of family and compared the school to students’ home away from home. She introduced all the school’s staff, including eight new teachers to the 464 students.
"We’re here for six-and-a-half hours every day," Latham said. "We want every child to walk into the building and feel comfortable."
AT ROLLING RIDGE Elementary School, Principal Melinda Carper and her staff adorn the halls and lunch tables with maps and flags of students' home countries to make them feel comfortable.
This year, Carper said she wants to celebrate the school’s diverse population.
On Friday, the principal walked through the halls past student-made flags and maps of the world. She walked past a tiled wall decorated with "Hello," "Bonjour," and "Hola."
"We want students to feel like it is their school," she said. "We’re celebrating every child this year."
Carper has another reason to celebrate. Rolling Ridge is currently undergoing major renovations, receiving new art and music classrooms and a new gymnasium. Even though the construction won’t be complete until July 2007, Carper is excited about up-to-date phone, intercom and sprinkler systems and a new office area.
Unlike Rolling Ridge, the 18-year-old Algonkian Elementary School didn’t undergo any renovations this year, except for a new paint job to the bright, red doors.
AT ALGONKIAN, Latham has one goal in mind, to get to know every child personally. In an effort to do this, the six-year principal makes sure to get out into the community, knock on doors and talk to parents and students.
While Carper’s goal is to make a difference in her students’ lives.
"Together we can make a difference," she said. "We have every staff member working together as a team."
At the end of Algonkian’s pep rally last Friday, Latham and her staff danced to Sister Sledge’s "We are Family" on the school’s stage.
"The kids got really excited about our theme," she said. "Now, I hear them singing that song through the halls."