Back To School: Renaissance-Style

It’s back to school time! That means that Renaissance schools across the country are using creative ways to set the tone for the school year with an energizing welcome for both students and staff.

At Horizon Middle School in Colorado Springs, CO, the school holds a Renaissance Rally as a way to provide positive motivation for students to achieve. Check out this video of their rally – which does a great job of welcoming kids back to school, specifically the students that are new to middle school:

Courtney DeMatteo, School Climate Coordinator for Horizon Middle School, had the following to say about starting Horizon’s second year with Renaissance:

“Horizon Middle School is just beginning our second year of Renaissance, though we may not have any “traditions” yet, we do have an awful lot of enthusiasm! Last year’s events included rallies, dances, dinners, and movie nights. Our students earn these incentives by meeting set GPAs or increasing their GPA by .5 of a point.
One major addition to our program this year is “The Red Project.” We all wanted to incorporate our students this year, and a few of our committee members came up with this club as a way to do this. Students will apply to become members and, based on their strengths and interests will be assigned to a small group with a focus on various service activities. These activities will include fund raising, student recognition, teacher recognition, Renaissance planning, and community service.”

Horizon Middle School is a wonderful example of student and teacher involvement, recognition for academic achievement, and generally setting up a great school climate to start the year off right.

Another key to setting a strong culture and climate is involving staffuty (all staff and faculty). At Vancleave Middle School in Vancleave, Mississippi, Principal Rhett Ladner welcomes back his staffulty with red carpet treatment – literally.



“We took the big yellow limo (Bus) as a team.  We had a red carpet with balloons and music playing as the Staffulty entered the limo.  We also had each Staffulty member autograph the VMS Rock Star banner on the side of the bus.  To top it off we arranged with our local law enforcement to give us a police escort with sirens.  As our Staffulty exited the bus we had speakers with loud music blasting and administrators cheered and gave them high fives so everyone noticed them.”

To reflect the energy of back to school season, Vancleave makes staffulty meetings exciting, utilizing a music and light system:

These Staffulty meetings use an ion Block Party Live system which cost only $128 for music and lights. As you can see it is not your everyday “faculty meeting.”

That same energy from the staffulty activities is then passed on to students at the back to school rally where the staffulty pays it forward to students with a flash mob dance:

“As students arrive on that first day the entire Staffulty greets them at the buses and car rider’s lines with balloons, music, dancing and cheering students and giving them high fives. Our 7th and 8th grade students enter the gym and receive their schedules and sit according to their year of graduation. The 6th grade students go to homeroom and then march into the gym together as the other classes cheer for them. Then we have a pep rally to talk about what bulldog pride is and the Staffulty performs a dance.”

These are just a few examples of ways that schools can implement Renaissance ideas to help renew school climate and culture. For more ways to start the school year with Renaissance, check out the recap of the August #jrchat. Have your own stories to start the school year? Email them to [email protected] or submit your step-by-step ideas to add to the Idea Exchange.

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