Creating a warm and inviting school climate where youth are actively engaged, have school spirit, and want to learn is one of the goals that Mansa (Ervin) and Making A Difference (Flowers) are hoping to accomplish this school year at Arc Learning Academy. With the school leadership of Dr. Larraine Fuller and the excellent staff at ALA, the kick-off to the school year was a new experience for the students. On August 17th, 2016 students were welcomed at a school-wide assembly where they were able to engage with new staff and students in an inviting atmosphere. The day started with a few icebreakers and energizers that encouraqed the students to look within themselves and start to identify their unique talents and strengths. Several students and staff volunteered to share their unique gifts which made the group learn different things about each other. As with the beginning of any new school year, students were told the expectations of the new year and reviewed the student code of conduct. To wrap up the assembly, students and staff were able to recognize that in order to have a successful year, each person needs to be open to trying new things and actively participating in ALA. The theme #ChangeTheGame was introduced to the students and staff and the message focused on changing mindsets, attitudes, and beliefs about education and community.
As a follow up during lunch, the cafeteria was transformed into a #ChangetheGame photobooth, where students were able to develop academic goals and the credits needed to graduate or move to the next grade level, attendance goals, and career goals for transition after graduation. Each student took a picture and was able to eat a "Sweet Treat" at the Sundae Bar with all of the toppings. The students were excited and confused because they were starting the year off a little differently. Some stated "This must be a one-time thing." "I like this, it’s something different." After hearing some comments and watching the students interact, Ervin and Flowers were excited to see the staff during their lunch period to help #ChangetheGame. Small steps engaging students and staff can help to create a dynamic school climate. Through leadership development, self-awareness activities, teambuilding and helping to boost self-esteem, Mansa and Making A Difference Consulting hopes to see changes within the students this school year.