Mineola High School is a true community... not just a school! This week was foreign language week across the United States and our 10th annual Multicultural Night.
This night is like no other! For the past two years we brought the middle school and high school together for an evening of food and entertainment. The evening begins at 6:00pm and there is standing room only! Why? How about 3 reasons.
1. There is food! Food is always a great way to bring people together. Our local restaurants are extremely generous and supportive of the work our schools do. Over 60 of them donate to an event that they do not even attend. Additionally, our families bring dishes and desserts that celebrate their cultures. It is an opportunity to sit with people you may not have met before, in a non-academic setting and just simply enjoy each others' company. Families are able to sit together, amongst their friends, a lost art in the hectic lives that we all live.
2. There are students! People like to be around our students and our students like being in our schools. Whenever there are students in our buildings after school hours we know that we have created a place where they want to be. Students are the heart of everything we do and the reason we love working!
3. There is entertainment! Our community embraces the arts and our students love to perform. Each year the number of acts grows and the talent is amazing. To hear our students sing and watch our students dance brings joy to our hearts. The audience is filled with parents, students, teachers, administrators, our Board of Education, and community members. They all cheer for our students with loud heartfelt applause. Everyone roots for each others' success and this helps create a culture where diversity is celebrated. From solos in English, Spanish, and Italian, to traditional Indian, Irish, and German dancing, we have it all! We even have a Tae Kwon Do demonstration that ignites the crowd!
School is so much more than nine periods a day. There is so much more about growing up and being a "well-rounded" person than just coming to school and going to class. Aside from the hard work and dedication in classroom, our students are involved, dedicated and hard-working in all aspects of their lives.
This is what makes Mineola a great community!
As I sit here writing this blog post, it is Friday afternoon... okay it is Friday evening. It is the end of Spirit Week at Mineola High School and a culmination of a week long event that featured the usual Pajama Day and Twin Day. There was a difference this year though. Our student organization met to discuss how we could make this year's event, that culminates with a Battle of the Classes, better.
You see... the students "owned" it this year. The students asked to change some of the games at the battle of the classes and they did. We also spoke about hallway decorations and adding that to the week's activities and off they went. The ideas and conversations became rich, not only in the student organization (SO) meetings but in their individual class meetings. Each class chose a theme related to places around the world and then began to frame what their hallway would look like. Choice became important and the class advisors listened to the ideas that the students had as well as how they would implement them.
When I asked the advisors what the hallways were going to look like, they said that they weren't sure. When I asked why, they told me that the students were in charge. They communicated with each other in the hallways and through social media as the day approached. By they way, there was no budget allocated for this; the students needed to coordinate what to bring in and the materials that they were going to use.
On Wednesday afternoon, the students had one hour after school to decorate their hallway according to theme. I walked around and witnessed unbelievable collaboration between and among students. There were ladders, and tape, and decorations to immerse the hallway in themes that included Paris, Rio, USA, Hollywood, and the Arctic. The creativity was amazing! As faculty, staff, parents, and administrators walked through the halls their comments were unilaterally positive.
In professional development meetings, the adults have been talking about the 4Cs (Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, and Critical Thinking) in the classroom and how to shift instruction from teacher-centered, to student-centered. I guess our students have have learned and the end product of that learning... in more than one way, was spectacular!
Whittney Smith, Ed.D.
Dr. Smith is the Principal of Mineola High School in Garden City Park, NY. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Ruth Ammon School of Education at Adelphi University.