The last weeks of Semesters offer students, teachers and school communities the chance to enjoy activities that can be overlooked. For many schools these weeks allow celebrations that go beyond academics. NAPLAN tests are over. Primary and secondary school students are about to enter a four week holiday break. This is a period that allows for some quiet reflection on the year to date. It provides a chance for students and staff to participate in some of the more non-academic but vital pursuits associated with school experiences. Activities that help build school spirit and camaraderie can include the following.

Major assemblies featuring class performances.
Dry season concerts, often held outside at night.
End of semester school discos.
Overseas exchanges with sister schools.
Intra school athletics carnivals .
Shared sporting and cultural activities between schools.
School community breakfasts.
Open days and school fetes.

The focus on academics and assessment programs, poses a danger that these respite times and activities can be put on the back-burner or overlooked altogether. Including these activities provides balance for students. They should be included in school calendars.

The social and emotional aspects of student development are supported by these and similar activities. They offer children a chance to relax and recognise non classroom abilities in each other.

Not wasted time

Some would reason there is no place in our schools for activities of this nature. Their argument is that each minute of every school day should be devoted to the academic aspects of school life. However, children and teachers are human. They need and deserve the chance to associate though activities designed to build school spirit. The importance of these shared opportunities cannot be overstated.

Building tone, harmony and atmosphere within schools is an enormous challenge. Visitors gain instant impressions about how the school feels. The spirit that exists within schools, grows from the synergy or collective energy developed within and between students and staff. It’s the association that comes from sharing happy times that builds toward the tone and atmosphere sensed by visitors and others. In turn, the reputation of schools is either positively or negatively judged by this feeling of comfort.

It is sharing collective times together that helps in building these perceptions. The “joy times” help create an everlastingly good impression about schools. That is appreciated by those within and appreciated by the community at large.

Note: While written for Norrthern territory conditions, this paper has applicability, through adaptation, to fit all scghools everywhere.

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