The music was blaring from the auditorium’s speakers, but that volume was no match for the cheers, hollers and, yes, even laughs from the 500 students inside.
Jostens’ Renaissance Back to School Tour was in town, and it was making a stop at Princess Anne High School. Students from all across the region came to take part in the day’s events to learn how they can be part of creating a supportive and engaged climate and culture in their schools.
So, how do you get 500 students from all different schools to quickly come together?
A break dance competition.
Dozens of students – and even staff members – began the morning on stage showcasing their best moves. Some were decidedly more successful than others, but by the competition’s end, students and staff earned the adoring crowd’s applause.
The Renaissance Back to School Tour Host Mike Smith is a self-proclaimed, “professional teenager.” Smith also hosts The Harbor, a free, educational video series where Smith and celebrities including American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, country singer Kelsea Ballerini and skateboarding champion Ryan Sheckler tackle the big issues students wrestle within today’s world. These topics include pursuing passions, dealing with divorce and expressing your individuality.
Onstage today, Smith shared with the students that the Renaissance Tour could visit one school a day to reach kids and talk about making a difference in their schools.
“But,” Smith said, “you are the ones who can make a (bigger) impact.”
Dr. Phillip Campbell, a former teacher and principal, was up next and outlined for students the simple ways they can go about making that impact.
“It’s you going and sitting in the cafeteria and sitting with someone who is all by themselves,” Campbell said. “It doesn’t cost anything to say, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ It’s absolutely free…it doesn’t cost anything to be nice.”
Campbell went through what Jostens has branded the Five R’s of Renaissance: Respect, Recognize, Reward, Reinforce and Results. Through each new term, students were given ways they could help revolutionize their fellow students’ high school experience. He shared ideas from his own school, such as academic pep rallies, birthday walls that are decorated monthly to bear the name and birthday of every student in the school, and student-led bathroom renovations, where students go in and redesign the student bathrooms to promote positive messages and create bright, colorful images around them.
For every initiative or project idea, though, the point came back to the power each student has in his/her own interactions with fellow students.
“You guys can create those moments for folks in your building. The question is: How?” Campbell said. “Are you a leadership kid because you need to pad that scholarship application? Or, are you a leadership kid because you genuinely care…When you drive to school and you see a kid walking, give him a ride to school. Establish a relationship.”
And, if nothing else, Campbell shared to never forget the power of a high-five.
“What if you went back to school today and just gave high-fives? You can’t help but smile when you’re getting a high-five.”
For more information about the Renaissance tour, The Harbor or other resources, visit www.jostensrenaissance.com.