For the first time in Foothill history, the first day of school focused solely on icebreaker activities rather than the traditional syllabus day. Run by the Associated Student Body (ASB) class, students were instructed to leave their school supplies at home for “No Backpack Day” which consisted of a different team bonding or personal reflection exercise each period. Each grade came together at lunch for a dance-off, followed by a teacher-led rendition of the classic “Cupid Shuffle”.
ASB advisor Melanie “Captain” Lindsey said that “No Backpack Day” is an event that numerous schools across the nation have implemented in order to emphasize the importance of “social/emotional health and wellness for kids,” as well as relationships between students, their peers, teachers and faculty members.
“It was really fulfilling for me. We laughed, we got to know each other,” Lindsey said. “We found ways to connect that there’s usually no space for.”
Lindsey estimated that about 40 percent of students got involved with the dancing activities at lunch, which is “way more” than she expected.
Principal Joe Bova wanted the incoming freshmen’s first impression of the school to be “not a formal, academic, professor-student situation,” but “more of a collaborative, fun way for students to see each other in a different light and for students to see staff in a different light.”
Bova said that the staff members met up before the first day of school to go through the activities themselves.
“After everybody ran through it together, they could […] see more of the value of it and […] feel more comfortable implementing it,” he said.
“The seniors, juniors and sophomores are much more loud. The freshmen are still not sure and uncomfortable, so it took them a little while to open up, but they did after a while,” Bova said.
Graduating at the end of this school year, Maizie Anders ‘18 was “kind of uneasy” when she first heard of the stress-free day, and thought, “why can’t we just have another day of summer?” After arriving, she changed her mind and thought that “No Backpack Day” is “a really nice transition into getting back into school.”
“I think that it’s kind of a nice way to meet your classmates without it being that awkward, ‘what’s your name?’ kind of thing,” she said.
Since Foothill doesn’t start off with its normal block schedule this year, the students don’t have to prepare for the two first days of school. Anders thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the day, and thinks that, “this is definitely the best first day of school ever.”
Sara Francis ’21 thought the day was “very exciting.” She perceived the more personal activities as a bit challenging, but thought they were “good in the long run.”
Francis found herself enjoying the atypical first day of school, and felt very welcomed by the students on campus.
“I’m really happy to see where this goes, and where I’ll end up in the end, “ Francis said.
In sixth period, students took a survey enabling them to share their opinion on the activities of the day. The results will help determine whether or not Foothill will have more days like this in the future.