SHELDON—Students at East Elementary in Sheldon were prepared last Friday morning when principal Jason Groendyke asked them what it means to be an Orab.
He posed the question to the 410 students during an all-school assembly in the gymnasium that kicked off the first day of classes.
Students who were familiar with the acronym of the district mascot’s name immediately raised their hands, and Groendyke called on them to identify what each letter of Orabs stands for.
“Outstanding and organized,” the first student correctly answered.
“Respectful and responsible,” shouted the next student.
Having an “active attitude,” trying your “best and believing in yourself” and being “super and successful” rounded out the last three letters.
“I’d also like to say: Being an Orab is a winner,” Groendyke said. “Would you guys say you guys are winners?”
The gym erupted with shouts of “Yeah!” from the students.
After the assembly, Groendyke said it was great to see all the new and returning students and feel the excitement that comes with the first day back.
“Obviously, the first day of school, there’s a lot of excitement, and that’s something that we hope to keep going throughout the school year,” he said. “We don’t want it to just end on the first day.”
The principal also said he was pleased when the students answered another question he had asked during the assembly — “When should you be an Orab?” — by shouting, “All the time!”
“That means we’re doing something right here, and that’s always a good thing,” Groendyke said.
Earlier in the assembly, the students were treated to a homemade music video that instructional coach Carla Kleinwolterink had filmed the day before of the elementary teachers.
The video, edited by Sheldon High School senior Madison Van Meeteren, showed the teachers walking into a classroom and dancing to a hip-hop-style song with the refrain, “I’m a teacher.” The teachers also were shown playing on the playground and dressing up as superheroes and running through a hallway.
Groendyke said the elementary school staff always try to find a fun way to welcome the students back for another year.
“I think they enjoy it just as much as the kids like to see it,” he added.
The students and staff members were not the only ones at East Elementary who were excited for the academic year to get underway.
Superintendent Cory Myer, who is entering his second year overseeing the Sheldon School District, arrived at East Elementary early Friday morning to welcome families and their children as he held open the front door.
“I’m just really excited for the start of another school year and all the opportunities it presents for our students and staff and just really excited and looking forward to a great year,” Myer said.
He also commented about this year’s anticipated enrollment for the district, the official numbers for which will not be available until October.
“We thought we were going to be down pretty significantly, actually, because we graduated a big senior class, and then we had some families we knew were moving away,” Myer said.
“But we have had a number of new families come into the district over the summer that we’re aware of here. Just in the last couple of weeks even, we’ve had good numbers.”
On Monday, Myer said the unofficial number for enrollment so far was 1,078 but that would change in the coming weeks and months as more students either get registered or leave the district. The reason for the fluctuations, he explained, is that families find themselves moving to new communities more often than in years past.