Music, dance and games were all part of the Washington School District’s annual opening ceremony for teachers and staff Monday morning at the C.J. Burger Fine Arts Center at Washington High School.
Students will return to the classrooms Wednesday for a full-day schedule.
Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer and School Board President John Freitag welcomed the staff back. The superintendent told employees to never underestimate the power of their influence.
VanLeer also recognized all of those who worked ver the summer, including the buildings and grounds staff, technology staff, summer school teachers, coaches who ran summer camps, counselors who continued to meet with students, teachers furthering their education and the 12-month staff that keep things moving.
The Washington High School dance team, the Jaywalkers, then took the stage performing to “My Song Knows What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘em Up)” on the stage.
The music continued with the showing of the Washington Police Department’s lip sync, which featured several district students.
Washington Police Chief Ed Menefee also addressed the group, telling the educators and support staff that he appreciates what they do in developing the youth of the community.
Chief Menefee, who introduced the school resource officers working in the district, also issued a lip sync challenge to all of the schools.
Also speaking at the assembly were South Point Elementary Principal Aimee Harty on behalf of the Franklin County Area United Way and Brad Mitchell on behalf of the WINGS Educational Foundation.
The district raised $18,740 for the United Way last year.
WINGS also awarded its third STEAM Collaborative WINGS Grant at the program.
The $6,737 grant was awarded to Four Rivers Career Center in collaboration with Washington West and Campbellton elementary schools for the “BUILD Academy — Building Unique and Innovative Learning by Design.”
The project will offer sixth-grade students at Washington West and Campbellton project-based learning experience to research, design, plan, construct, market and sell a product — doghouses.
The WINGS Teacher of the Year finalists also were recognized. They include:
Cody Stapel — Special education teacher at Washington West Elementary.
Dan Brinkmann — Auto technology instructor at Four Rivers Career Center.
Melissa Ziegler — Science teacher at Washington Middle School.
Tim Branson — No Excuses and history teacher at Washington High School.
Dr. Heather Clark — Counselor at South Point Elementary.
Dr. Jennifer Maune — Third-grade teacher at Augusta Elementary.
The winner will be announced at the WINGS Hall of Honor dinner in September.
To help generate excitement for the new year, VanLeer invited the WHS Blue Jay cheerleaders to the stage to perform. The cheerleaders then helped throw out T-shirts and distributed prizes as part of a name that song game. Staff members had to tweet their answers.
The opening ceremony ended with a bang with the WHS drum line performing on stage and receiving a standing ovation.
VanLeer compared the PGA championship that just wrapped up in St. Louis with the start of the new year.
“There was so much energy at that event,” she said. “Everyone wants something to root for, to be part of, to be passionate about, for a week, and forever . . . and everyone loves a comeback story and idea of overcoming adversity and getting a second or third chance.
“I bet our students will win big, make huge comebacks and capitalize on second and third chances all year,” she added. “We will inspire them with purpose and passion through the power of our influence.”