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That's the spirit

Spirit Week at Soldotna Elementary enlivens atmosphere

Posted: Wednesday, November 03, 2004


  Students at Soldotna Elementary School show off their special socks worn on Monday as part of Spirit Week activities aimed at bringing a bit of fun to the school. Photo by Phil Hermanek

Students at Soldotna Elementary School show off their special socks worn on Monday as part of Spirit Week activities aimed at bringing a bit of fun to the school.

Photo by Phil Hermanek

Schools four-walled institutions of learning; A place to mold impressionable young minds and inspire possible future presidents to wear wacky socks or weird hats.

That may not be what some people envision, but as the staff, students and their families at Soldotna Elementary School kick off another Spirit Week, anything else would be old-school thinking.

Spirit Week is a biannual event at the school featuring days that have different themes assigned to each of them.

"Schools have evolved and now offer so much more than just educational opportunities," said Erin Southwick, music teacher and the school's spirit coordinator. "A school teaches life skills and social skills. We teach not just minds, but heart and souls, as well."

While spirit days have been part of the school's past, dedicating a week to it began only six years ago.

Principal Carolyn Cannava and staff members were looking for a way for students to connect with each other, the teachers and the outside community.

Bringing 297 students in grades kindergarten through sixth, with two special needs preschool classes, is no easy feat. However, Southwick believes Spirit Week has brought the school closer.

"When you hear kids laughing together and the older kids mentioning something one of the younger students wore or did, you know you have managed to close the gap," she said.

As you might guess, it's not all fun and games. There is a rhyme to the reasoning behind each day.

On Monday, the kids got a chance to express and explore their sense of whimsy by wearing the silliest socks they could find.

Patriotism and expanding students' views of the world was encouraged Tuesday by wearing red, white and blue clothing.

Pajama Day is all about learning how to relax and slow down the pace. Teachers and students will get to lounge around today in their PJs and will end the day with each class holding a Stop, Drop and Read time.

Finding opportunities to put on one's best face isn't easy especially when jeans and a T-shirt go on so much quicker in the morning but Thursday students will get a chance to shine in their dressiest clothes.

Learning to have pride in yourself and what you accomplish is the lesson plan in Friday's Wolves Spirit day. Students will show up in school colors black, blue and gray or school T-shirts to celebrate the school and their part in its success.

Southwick has fond memories of spirit weeks from her school days and believes it taught her to be closer to others around her. Hoping to bring the same sense of fun to the current crop of students, she even began pep assemblies to kick off the event.

"Kids need to feel safe, have a sense of belonging and be excited about what they are doing. The positive energy our staff reflects in their teaching and in activities like Spirit Week help accomplish this goal," Southwick said.

That sense of excitement and fun was showing in the glowing smiles of students that were as bright as the multicolored socks on their feet.

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