WARSAW — Warsaw Community Schools welcomed its employees back for the 2016-2017 school year with a celebration in the Performing Arts Center Friday morning, Aug. 12.
Using a presidential convention theme, faculty and staff members sat in groups, sporting signs, pompoms and Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert’s face.
Junior ROTC students presented the colors for the Star Spangled Banner and Pledge of Allegiance. Chief Academic Officer David Robertson then introduced the “delegates” from each school and from the different departments, like food services, transportation/maintenance and the central office.
Robertson used various campaign slogans, encouraging everyone to be “stronger together” for “a future to believe in.” He also said the schools’ platform is its mission statement, which states, “to inspire and equip all students to continuously acquire and apply knowledge and skills while pursuing their dreams and enriching the lives of others.”
“It’s the heart of what we do,” Robertson said. “It’s more important than anything else and it’s really who we are.”
WCS also introduced this year’s “campaign slogan,” “teamwork makes the dream work.”
Hoffert and School Board Member Heather Reichenbach presented a gift to retiring board member Jennifer Tandy. Reichenbach recalled a comical incident in which the two of them were driving and a basset hound laid down in the middle of the street and would not move. Tandy, she said, got out of the car and walked up to the dog and it moved out of the way.
“Jennifer was just going to make it happen, just like she does with everything we do,” Reichenbach said.
Dani Barkey recognized several teachers and staff members, including Gena Kendall, Claypool Elementary School Custodian Ben Stage, Teresa Helm of Edgewood Food Services, Kim Grubbs and unified track coach Julene Walker.
Hoffert then explained where the inspiration for this year’s slogan came from, sharing humorous situations he found himself in during the summer while river rafting and cliff diving. At one point, his inner tube became stuck on rocks and a teen came by and helped out. He thanked her, and she responded with, “teamwork makes the dream work.”
Hoffert also outlined some of the behind-the-scenes activities that took place over the summer to prepare teachers and staff for the school year. He recapped the construction project revolving around Edgewood Middle School, Washington STEM Academy and Lincoln Elementary School, all of which were planned for.
He also talked about a construction project the school could not have planned for — replacing the bus garage that burned. Looking at the transportation staff, he quipped, “I’m so glad you guys didn’t say [a slogan] like, ‘burning it up,’ or ‘burning rubber’ or, ‘we’re on fire,'” eliciting laughter from around the auditorium.
He also recapped the partnership with KCH Lutheran Health Network, which not only has allowed for the installation of artificial football field turf, but will help bring in health professionals for things like CPR training for staff and testing on athletes to look for undetected health problems.
Looking toward the future, he introduced a book titled, “The Chuck-It List,” encouraging everyone to take a look at what needs to go as far as educational practices that no longer work to make room for new ones. A “chuck-it list,” he added, is like a “bucket list” for things a person will probably never do in his or her lifetime.
“Like, I will probably never be in the Iditarod dog sled race,” he said, laughing.
The celebration ended with a balloon drop, as shown at various political conventions.