Connections Team: Connecting Students and the School

Connections Team: Connecting Students and the School

Emily Duong, Contributor

Bob Jones High School is a school of diversity: with over 60 native languages spoken, 80+ different clubs and organizations, sports galore, and more than ten new families joining Bob Jones in just the last month. When it’s your first day in an unknown environment, how does this school help a new student feel included, welcomed, and connected? 

Answering in a poll, some students discussed their clubs, sports, theater, working on school publications (such as Patriot Pages, The Eclectic literary magazine, and the yearbook), Patriot Path, pep rallies, and relationships created with friends and teachers. Organizations like S2S and Peer Helpers do their part for newcomers, and student aides give school tours. Assistant principal Mrs. Thaxton said connection “first starts from the moment they enter the front doors and the welcoming atmosphere that is created by our staff,” where they are introduced to their counselors, admin, Mrs. Carroll for Patriot Path, etc. However, not every new student is given the opportunity to make connections easily. After all, they have just arrived and barely know the opportunities that are open to them. The newly-established Connections Team hopes to help with that.

The BJ Connections team meets once every three to four weeks during Patriot Path with the goal of “implementing positive ideas that will impact our school culture” and “promoting a welcoming, safe, and supportive” school environment, as stated by principal Mrs. Lambert and Mrs. Thaxton. Comprised of students from all corners– publications staff members, soccer players, club leaders, and various honors society members, to name a few– this committee will become the think tank to help students connect to everything Bob Jones offers. Mrs. Lambert said, “I think that the Connections team will give all BJ students an opportunity to get connected with others in positive ways. With these activities, our students and teachers can focus on positive qualities such as being kind, respectful, supportive, etc. This will strengthen the school culture that we have as we focus on positive and connecting activities throughout our students.” Everything the team does will support the school’s core values: to have integrity, care about others, pursue excellence, and simply be Bob Jones.

At this week’s first Patriot Path meeting, Mrs. Lambert opened up the students’ introductions with what we love the most at Bob Jones. Answered varied from sports, to clubs, to Mrs. Maguire’s class. The students were then led through a Mentimeter presentation, where students answered two questions: “How do others connect at Bob Jones?” and “How do you feel connected?” These questions jogged members’ thinking of how this school connects people to its culture. Mrs. Lambert then went into the purpose of Connections and explained the school’s core values in depth. Next, Mrs. Thaxton led a bonding exercise in which the members were split into four groups to highlight words that related to a core value that the group was given. The group also thought of different ways that their core value could be exhibited inside and outside of school. Finally, the meeting ended with brainstorming on a Padlet, where several ideas were contributed to ways the school could connect students and the core values.

How do students want the school to better connect with students?

Many people stated better advertising for clubs, organizations, and sports is necessary. In particular, senior Matthew Pimmel said, “Pretty much everything I’m a part of I heard about through word of mouth and a few posters around the school. Maybe have a list of sports/extracurriculars posted all in one place for people who are interested [the school website actually this, though some of it needs to be updated] or have something like an assembly that talks about some of these clubs on the first day of school.” Sophomore Lily Shelton added that “if clubs were advertised more, people could find others with similar interests more easily. I feel like people are often just thrown into this school without much help being lead in the right direction.” Sophomore Cas Congdon feels that “there could be more support from upperclassmen to help new students feel more comfortable in the school and to help them learn their way around, especially because of how big the school is.” Freshman Darci Kilpatrick said that new students “meeting with the administrators makes them uncomfortable sometimes. I know we have programs…to help welcome new people, and I think it’s a good start, but we should have booklets explaining some of the confusing parts of Bob Jones that they don’t even know about yet, like Patriot Path and hall passes.” Junior Max McGee suggested to find friends for new students that “actually will be friends with the person inside and outside the school,” and sophomore Isabelle Thomasy added that there should be “people to welcome [new students]. Share the BJ social media accounts so that they can stay updated on what’s going on at our school.” Overall, however, the most important things, as said by senior Sergio Rivera and junior Sam Robbins respectively, are to “[b]e understanding and patient,” and to “[m]ake inclusivity more present in the school.”

With all of this in mind, the Connections team will try their best to deliver what will be best for their fellow students to connect with their school. So, in the future, look out for the BJ Connections team’s projects. Maybe you will see Patriot Pages articles showcasing our students’ charitable acts and cool hobbies. Maybe you will see another Bob Jones social media page, catching students’ good deeds in the act. You may even get a school shoutout for a random display of kindness. Whatever the Connections team comes up with, this team is dedicated to helping all students, new and old, connect with the school, the people, and the culture.