Students at Minot High School-Magic City Campus celebrated the first day of school Wednesday with activities that reminded them of summer.
Juniors and seniors made handprints in maroon paint on butcher paper in front of the school, drew with sidewalk chalk and took silly pictures with their friends.
Seniors Haley Wentz and Tiffany Dostert said they want to change the culture in their school and make everyone feel welcome and part of what is going on. They also want to encourage students to stay in school until graduation day.
Andrea Johnson/MDN • New high school seniors at Minot High School-Magic City Campus put handprints on a banner to mark the first day of school Wednesday.
"Kids want to be in school if they feel like they're safe and accepted," said Dostert.
The handprint banner will be put on display in the school. When the seniors graduate at the end of the year, they will put gold handprints on the same banner to emphasize that they completed their goal of staying in school and graduating.
The girls came up with their fun start to school idea after they attended the Renaissance conference in Orlando, Fla., in July with high school associate principal Jeri Grant. Grant said the conference is run by the company Jostens, from which the school district orders school yearbooks, class rings and other supplies.
Enrollment on the first day of school in the Minot Public Schools was 7,133, up from 6,853 students enrolled on the first day of school in the fall of 2010, according to Supt. Mark Vollmer.
Vollmer said the number of kindergarteners is up substantially. There were 733 kindergarteners enrolled on the first day of classes on Wednesday.
Wentz and Dostert said everyone at the conference was pumped up and had great ideas for making all kids feel included. When they came home, the girls contacted more than a dozen other students and two teachers to help organize the initial activities for their new Renaissance club.
They said the conference organizers emphasized that schools need to go all out to make kids feel at home on the first day and fun activities can help. One school had older students act like paparazzi and take pictures of new freshmen entering the school building on the first day.
Wentz remembers having a bad first day of school when she started her freshmen year at Minot High School-Central Campus three years ago and Dostert said many freshmen are scared to be in the big building with so many other kids surrounding them that first day.
At Magic City Campus the kids are a bit more seasoned, but there are also a lot of new students this year. Grant said there were 80 new students at Magic City Campus as of the first day of school and she has more who are still registering for classes.
"That's more than we would expect," said Grant.
The district is also seeing new enrollment at schools at every grade level and expects to keep seeing new students enroll for the next several days.