Chalkbeat: This Aurora school held a virtual pep rally to keep its school culture alive

A screenshot of the first Paris Elementary virtual assembly on April 10, 2020.

Story excerpt:

"When students used to walk to Aurora’s Paris Elementary, the principal and other staff greeted them to music at the entrance. A weekly assembly like a pep rally, recognition of students and staff, and reminders of school values — all contributed to creating supportive enthusiasm at school.

'It’s that spirit of we love you, we see you,' said Susan Gershwin, community school coordinator. 'That’s just our school culture, so it’s like, now how do we carry that on?'

Now that school buildings have been closed for the rest of the school year in Aurora, Paris leaders are trying to bring back some of that feeling.

Paris is wrestling with the same challenges that face many schools that serve students from low-income households. Educators are trying to create ways for families to continue to feel connected to the school, reaching out by calling and texting, and trying to recreate parent groups and after-school student activities in a virtual space. Invigorating students about school has been one of Paris’ strategies to boost achievement.

Last Friday, the school tried its first virtual assembly on Google Hangouts."