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Draper Journal

Changing the case of the Mondays: student council greet every student arriving to school

Nov 27, 2019 07:40AM ● By Julie Slama

Draper Park Middle School student leaders welcome students and faculty each Monday morning as part of a concerted effort to make the school more welcoming and build a positive culture. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Soon after the custodian opened the main doors to get the morning newspapers and before many faculty and Principal Mary Anderson arrived, seventh-grader Michael Wheatley was opening the door for people arriving to Draper Park Middle School on the last chilly October Monday morning.

“Have a great Monday,” “I like your backpack,” “I know you; you’re in my class,” he said to students and teachers alike.

He wasn’t the only one greeting people as they arrived to the school. Behind him were three other seventh-grade student council members giving high-fives and telling classmates, “Have a good day.” 

And at other entrances, eight other seventh-graders welcomed teachers and students.

The greeters are all student council members, 34 who rotate and are in position by 7 a.m., every Monday morning, making sure every student, teacher and staff member get the door held open to them and are greeted.

“I like it,” sixth-grade student Kinana Gonzales said. “It makes me feel welcome here.”

That, sixth-grade teacher Pam Saltmarsh says, is the point.

“We want to make sure kids feel comfortable at school, especially our sixth-graders who are new,” she said. “We want to make everyone feel welcome.”

Saltmarsh said student council adviser and assistant principal Jodi Roberts was behind the idea to greet everyone at the door. 

“It’s a way everyone can touch base and greet everyone. Most everyone seems to be happier when they come in and it’s really been helpful for those shy kids, or ones with anxiety or who are scared. Just a smile makes a huge difference. I heard last week, our eighth-grader council members even made up a cheer to greet students,” said Saltmarsh, who helps oversee the meet and greet sub-committee.

Seventh-grader Ellie Miller was one of the students greeted at the main door.

“I like it; when students are tired and dragging to come to school on Mondays, it’s nice to get greeted before hearing all the noise inside,” she said. “We’re seeing more of our student council this way this year than just at assemblies like last year.”

Student council member Talmage Watson agrees it is hard to get up in the 22-degree temperatures when it was “pitch black,” but “we want to start off people’s days better,” he said.

Michael agrees: “If people are having a bad Monday, and we tell them to have a good day or open a door for someone who needs it, we are making a difference. Hopefully, we’re bringing some happiness.”

Student council member Will Russell said he gets mixed reactions from students.

“I’m getting people to smile when I help open the door or give them a high-five,” he said. “A couple students think they’re too cool and are frowning when I say, ‘have a good day.’” 

Classmate Kate Shakespear said that won’t deter their efforts.

“It may not make a difference to every person, but if it makes a difference to any person, it’s worth it,” she said. “Plus, it’s fun. I get to be at school, hang out with friends, see everyone as they arrive and it makes most everyone happy.”