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Community Day held at RHS

By Staff | Jan 27, 2017

Rugby High School hosted its first Community Leadership Day last Friday, January 20.

The day consisted of 12 selected community members leading students in leadership and team-building activities.

Leah Johnson, Language Arts teacher at RHS, decided to present the idea for Community Day to the RTI committee after talking with her brother-in-law, who runs leadership classes in Minnesota. Johnson wanted to do something similar here.

“We’re always trying to give kids different perspectives and new ideas, but that’s not always easy in the classroom,” Johnson said. “Because of the success of our mentorship program within the school, we knew we wanted to branch out into the community.”

The RTI committee’s mentorship program provides support to students at RHS. Every student is assigned to a teacher in the building. The groups meet every so often to complete mentor/mentee activities. According to Johnson, activities can be fun ones, like playing games. Mentors also help their mentees register for classes and find community service projects, among other activities.

To prepare, the RTI committee brainstormed names of people, as well as jobs, in the community that would be beneficial to the students on the day.

“We have so many resources in the community, and it’s also a good way for community members to see the school since they don’t get to see our every day education,” Johnson said. “We wanted a variety of positions, both male and female participants, and a variety of ages.”

Activities led by the community members varied, according to Johnson. Activities included working with social media, problem solving with physical actions, working in teams to figure out a solution to a made up scenario, and more.

“The kids seemed to have a position reaction, and the presenters I have talked to said that they had a good time,” Johnson said.

In its first year, Community Day was “pretty organic,” according to Johnson. “I think it went well,” she said. “I didn’t have a lot of expectations, with it being the first time. You really don’t know how it’s going to turn out when you try something like this.”

Johnson explained that the day was about the students having a different experience than their everyday classroom routines in order to prepare them for after they leave RHS, which is why it was so important to have a variety of presenters. “We really want to address the needs of students, so that when they leave, they are prepared,” she said. “We don’t want to send them out into the world with them being apathetic to what the world is and what it needs.”

While the committee has not yet discussed whether Community Day will continue, Johnson said she hopes more activities like this can be done. “I don’t know that it’s beneficial to do Community Day every year, perhaps every other year, but I would like to see community members come in and work with us more,” she said. “I think it’s important that they can see what we’re doing with the kids and see that it’s more than just sitting in desks and taking tests.”

Community presenters were Pat Branco, Heart of America Medical Center; Mike Graner, Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center; Carissa Mavec, The Pierce County Tribune; Tanner Johnson, First International Bank and Trust; Heather Milbrath and Dan Stadick, Gooseneck; Shelley Block and Kelsey Nelson, HAMC; Mike McNeff, Rugby Public Schools; Elaine Sveet, First Lutheran Church; Dustin Hager, HAMC; and Terry Jelsing, local artist.

Members of the RTI committee are Johnson, Rita Sveet, Jared Blikre, Ashley Stricker, Meghan Olson, Jan Hagen and Brian Olson.

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