Rossville School students and teachers put the books down on Tuesday, in the name of leadership and team building.
"Is this for real?" said one student about the proposition of no schoolwork for the day.
Principal Krystle Valliere set the kids up for a surprise, sending everyone to the story pit shortly after the first bell as music was blaring and some 25 Coleville students were left wondering why.
Tuesday morning in Coleville was the culmination of a ton of planning by the principal and so many other volunteers, but at the same time, it was just the beginning of what the principal hopes turns into something that will last for the years to come.
Valliere explained to the kids the idea of "house teams". A bear, a coyote, and a bison were the three mascots chosen as everyone gathered in the gym shortly after the unveiling to officially choose the inaugural group of teams. Before entering the gym there was an honest conversation about the values behind each mascot, and staff members including Principal Valliere were unveiled as the different leaders.
Each animal came with some descriptive words as well. Team Bison represents bravery, strength, and respect. Team Coyote gives off the values of a teacher, a trickster, along with overall resilience. Team Bear is based on power, being a protector, and courage.
The points system was explained as things like sportsmanship, extra practice whether it be reading or math, and also continuing to promote the different Student of the Month themes at Rossville School are all things that would get students points.
Once all of the information was in place, the "Rocky" theme hit the loudspeaker and kids were given permission to run in the halls towards the first ever sorting ceremony.
Once everyone made it into the gym the lights were turned off and the selection process started.
One by one students' names were called, and Valliere shared their fate courtesy of some help from the Rossville Racoon.
Every student got a chance to take a seat on the official House Teams Throne. Every student wore the official racoon mask. Everyone had their name chanted on the way up to the stage as the kids cheered loud for their new teammates.
Once all of the teams were finalized everyone returned to the common room, and the next step was to create a team motto:
"No bear left behind."
"Hear our howl, feel our growl!"
"Bison's stick together, stand up for each other, and are open to taking chances."
After teams had crafted their motto, they worked to design a coat of arms. Everyone got a chance to make their own version of what they felt should represent their team.
That part of the activity was a way to bring artistic talent and symbolism into play. Kids were forced to think deeply about their mascot and what their team can do to help represent it in the best way. The coat of arms is something to be proud of, and ample time was given for the design period as students were directed not to rush. Even though not everybody's design would be making it into the final product, they will be on display at the Rossville School awards night later this spring.
After each team showed off their crest, the next step was to create a team chant and pose for a special cheer competition held afterwards in the gymnasium. That was another opportunity for teams to collect points during the competitions opening day, and then things calmed down a little bit afterwards with a pizza party!
Once all of the morning activities were completed and each team had an identity, the kids went back to the gym in the afternoon and held a gym blast featuring relay races, minute to win it games, and similar activities until the day was over. At the beginning of the day there was a warning to students that they might get wet, and some super soaker fun did in fact help close out the busy day.
With so many moving pieces to organize Tuesday's fun, Principal Valliere has to be happy with how everything went, right down to the fact that all of the kids seemed to enjoy the fun equally.
These teams will be fun to follow for the rest of the school year (and into the next), and the one behind the idea talked a bit more about just what the house teams are hoping to accomplish.
"Our mission with house teams was to really build into students the fact that they don't have to wait till they are 18 to be a community member, and an active community member, especially in a small community like Coleville." said the principal. "We wanted to give them the tools they need now to start venturing out and feeling confident in joining different committees, and in volunteer work, in all capacities. Whether it's in Coleville or eventually Kindersley, or wherever they go, it's all about building confidence."
Rossville School's already mentioned Student of the Month contest is a similar way for students to exercise those traits, and now with house teams, there is extra incentive to exemplify what it takes to become the student of the month without actually taking home the award. Even if they don't win, house teams will present a good form of healthy competition for the kids as Valliere is someone who believes losing is more of an art than winning ever has been.
Inspired by her experience with house teams back in high school, Valliere was excited to bring the idea in during her first post as principal.
"I grew up in Meadow Lake up north, and they had house teams from Kindergarten right up until Grade 9. I remember quite a few times feeling alone, and not knowing who to go to if my friends were away. The house team provided me with kind of an automatic group of people that at any given lunch hour, when there were sports or those little monthly competitions, brought me together with a group I would not otherwise hangout with."
With less than 30 students, Rossville School might seem like an interesting target for house teams. In Valliere's experience, the teams likely had that many kids themselves!
West Central Online wasn't the only one present with a camera. A good part of the day was caught on video for some editing to be done later on. The hope is that Tuesday's first ever house teams' ceremony will be captured for Rossville School's generations to come in a special video.
It will be interesting to see how Team's Bear, Coyote, and Bison fare to end the school year. It will be even cooler to follow just what they have up their sleeves headed into the future.
View some more pictures from the day below.