Hundreds of young Lakota school students had to walk through a passage way of cheering, high-fiving, fist-bumping humanity early Wednesday to get to their classes.
The more than 650 students at VanGorden Elementary in Liberty Twp. were the latest to experience Lakota’s wildly popular “fanfare” ceremony, which started as a single-school experiment last school year.
Dozens of adults — including some school parents, local business workers and executives, school board members and top Lakota School district officials — form a tunnel of affirmation to encourage youngsters as they start their school day.
Among them Wednesday morning was new Lakota Schools Superintendent Matt Miller.
The brainchild of Lakota Schools Community Relations Coordinator Angie Brown, each of Lakota’s 22 schools will hold a morning fanfare welcome sometime during this school year.
The boisterous encouragement sends a couple of messages to students, said Brown.
“It means that somebody cares. It means that families, parents, community members are coming together to tell them to have a great day,” she said.
The students, who are not told beforehand, are surprised at each school.
“It’s a great start to their day … and it means a lot. The administrators, staff and teachers enjoy it too,” she said.
VanGorden Principal Gail Allshouse was among the adults cheering on her students.
“This is such a special occasion. They know they are being supported and they know they will have a great day,” said Allshouse.
“They will look on this moment throughout the school year and it will be such a terrific boost for them,” she said.
Lauren Boettcher, spokeswoman for the 16,500-student school system, said “over the last year or so, our student fanfares have become a tradition of sorts around Lakota. It’s such an easy way to show our students that there’s a huge community rallying behind them and their success.”
“You see so many happening right now at the beginning of the year. It’s one way to help get students started on the right foot. We’ll sprinkle them throughout the year during times like exams, state testing, after winter break or a long weekend, basically whenever students may need a pick-me-up,” said Boettcher.
“Our hope is that this is an easy way for people in our community who aren’t necessarily connected to the schools to get involved,” she said. “Even for our business community, it can be a quick stop on the way into the office. The West Chester Liberty Chamber Alliance has been a great partner in that way.”