Lincoln-Way District 210 Completes and Continues Transition Initiatives
Friday, June 3, 2016

As the 2015-2016 academic year has come to a close, District 210 has wrapped up the school year's transition activities. Throughout the fall and spring semesters, a number of committees were formed in order make the transition run smoothly for students. While the transition initiative will continue into summer, many events have already occurred.

At each of the four high schools, committees were formed by elected student leaders. Committees met monthly with their sister schools' committees to discuss the upcoming transition for outgoing and incoming students, plan events, and brainstorm activities and branding to help students feel at home in a new environment.

In addition to guided tours of schools, question and answer sessions, open houses that welcomed transitioning students, student-mixers, and one-on-one meetings with individual students who expressed concern with the transition, staff also helped facilitate more personal welcoming gestures between students.

For students who will be transitioning to a new school, native students sent encouraging banners to other schools' events--such as Prom--and sent notes of good luck and well-wishes during finals week. At each school, students and Athletic Boosters designed dually branded t-shirts to represent pride in transitioning students' native school, as well as their future school. For example, t-shirts for students transitioning from East to Central were branded with the phrase "Born Black and Blue" to represent the student's heritage at East, followed by the phrase, "Bleed Black and Red," symbolizing the student's future attendance to Central. Each school's logo and colors brand the shirt, displaying support for both, and were generously supplied by Athletic Boosters. While some school's t-shirts have already been handed out, other designs have yet to be revealed, and students will receive their shirts at the start of the fall semester. At Lincoln-Way West, students and faculty spent months preparing for a one-take lip dub that spanned a variety of songs and contained over 10 minutes of choreographed dancing and lip-syncing. The lip dub was designed to make transitioning students and incoming freshman feel welcome and excited to be a Warrior. At Lincoln-Way East, memorabilia is in the process of being re-arranged to accommodate for the addition of North's trophies and recognitions that will also line the hallways, allowing the Phoenix legacy and pride to continue thriving in a new environment.

Lincoln-Way students with special needs also attended many events and seminars designed to introduce them to new classmates and become familiar within their new school environment. Students drafted letters and created lists of questions about their future school, exchanging the letters with other students who could address their inquiries and concerns. Students visited their future school for activity sessions and tours, were invited to attend open house with their parents, and participated in scavenger hunts in their new buildings. In March, special needs students attended the district-wide Special Games, and in May, they held a pizza party together. "It was wonderful to see that many of the students knew each other through their involvement with outside activities such as Special Recreation. They were thrilled to see their friends and genuinely seemed excited for next year. We have always held all district events for the students in the LIFE program and look forward to continuing this tradition. These events will enable the students to stay connected," says Director of Special Services, Mary Harrison.

Many athletic coaches have met with parents and student athletes to welcome them, and to discuss goals and objectives for the 2016-2017 season. Athletic team-building activities have allowed students to spend time with future classmates and teammates through joint pizza parties and events to promote friendship throughout the district. Some transitioning students have joined their future classmates to visit junior highs to welcome the incoming freshman by facilitating dodgeball games and encourage attendance to the high school summer athletic camps.

In April, instead of hosting individual Spring Art Shows at each high school, Lincoln-Way held a District Spring Art Show. This allowed all students and families from all areas to gather and admire student artwork within the curriculum under one roof.

Discussion of combining all Lincoln-Way Marching Bands initially began in 2015, stemming from the music department chairs. After surveying students and parents, the overwhelming majority of participants voiced that one large band made up of students from all schools would help provide unity among the district. "Diminishing our numbers actually changes our abilities to do certain things in certain ways. Bigger numbers are better, by far. Every student plays, and every role is important," says Director, Bert Johnson.

This summer, multiple activities have been planned to welcome new students as well. Events such as a welcome barbecue and continued open school tours will allow students to meet new classmates, as well as become more familiar with their new environment. Additionally, the district has assigned similar transportation routes where possible so that students will see familiar faces on their buses.

"The administration, the faculty, and the students from every school worked so hard to develop these transition plans. We are incredibly proud of how well these activities came together, we are excited for the activities that we still have planned, and we are looking forward to an excellent new school year," says Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Tim Reilly.