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Leading a Commitment to Graduate



In just her second year as principal at Steilacoom High School, Deb Hay leads the charge of shaping the culture of her school as she welcomes the Class of 2018 into SHS. There are many transitional programs and activities that principals are using to welcome new students. Deb is taking those activities to the next level by challenging her students to make a commitment to graduate.

On August 27, students started their morning with welcome messages from current seniors, SHS staff and district Superintendent Kathi Weight. After student-led tours and many other connection activities, the 240+ incoming 9th grade students gathered in the school auditorium. Deb then took center stage and challenged every single student to make a commitment to graduate in 2018.

After some school cheers, motivational videos and messages from student leaders, students were issued the next challenge. Deb asked each student to get ready to stand in front of their peers and verbally and symbolically make a commitment to graduate prepared for the next phase of life. Student leaders and staff had the system timed out perfectly for students to exit the auditorium from one door as a timid incoming 9th grader and enter through another as a proud future graduate wearing a graduation gown in SHS Sentinel colors. Each student then walked across the stage and shook hands with the school’s leadership team and superintendent.

After the gauntlet of handshakes and greetings, each student stood at the microphone, said their name and signed the Class of 2018 Commitment to Graduate banner. One other magic touch - instead of a fake diploma, every single student received a post card from a Class of 2014 SHS grad encouraging students to dream big and make it happen. SHS Pay it Forward Legacy!

If you’ve got great traditions like this that we all can learn from, don’t be shy. Share your best practices with us so we can share them with the world! Leave a comment below or email Scott Seaman.