Some Adam Elementary School teachers and administrators sacrificed their final minutes of summer to ensure Santa Maria students saw words of encouragement upon their return to school on Monday.
On Sunday afternoon, teachers and administrators armed with plenty of chalk showed up to decorate sidewalks near the Santa Maria-Bonita School District campus on Windsor Street.
Assistant Principal Sharon Ybarra donned her sparkly “Adams Angels” T-shirt for the chalk art duty.
“We definitely want the kids to feel safe here and welcome,” she said. “We just want to make sure they know this is a home away from home.”
Principal Laurie Graack said the idea arose as part of the professional development effort focused on building relationships with students.
The chalk art was one idea that was suggested as something inexpensive and easy to implement so school officials started the effort last year.
Students responded postively, even walking around the sayings to avoid stepping on them, Graack said.
“The kids loved it. … It’s really, really neat,” Graack said. “They feel like a part of something, like we were waiting for them to get here.”
Sunday’s effort came 15 hours before the bell rang for the new school year for Graack, who began her 10th year as principal at the campus.
“We’re going to have a thousand kids descend on us at 8 a.m. and that’s a little bit scary,” she said. “But they’re great kids and great families, and it’s a great staff. We’re ready for it.”
While they worked, pausing to look up sayings when ideas ran short, parents and children showed up at the campus to learn which classrooms and teachers their students had been assigned to for the 2018-19 year.
Armed with a colorful assortment of chalk, they added short sayings with precision printing in sidewalk squares.
“I just want to encourage the kids and have them think of a school in a positive way, have them want to come daily,” said Magda Eaker, a sixth-grade teacher at Adam School.
Tiffany Marquez, a resource teacher, brought her daughter, Maddisen, to help deliver chalk, hand out pencils and draw on the sidewalk.
Messages included “This way to a bright future,” “Do your best,” and “Be awesome, be amazing, be you.”
Adam Elementary is one of 20 campuses marking the first day of the Santa Maria-Bonita district’s new year on Monday.
The district, which is home to transitional kindergartners through eighth-graders, has more than 16,500 students in the Santa Maria area.
The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District also began its new school year Monday.
The Orcutt Union High School District kicks off its new year with the first day of school for all grades Thursday. However, seventh-graders returned Wednesday.
In the Lompoc Unified School District, students from transitional kindergarten though 12th grades return for the new year on Wednesday.