Warm Welcome Wednesdays Are Back at Woodland Park School District’s Middle School

Every Wednesday Students Get Greeted By Different Members of the Community

“We’re a small community and we are all connected. But oftentimes the students can get in their own silos.”— Middle School Assistant Principal Erin Street

When Yvonne Goings became Woodland Park Middle School (WPMS) Principal, 5 years ago, she had a vision to connect WPMS students with members of our local police and fire department. Since then the program has expanded to additional community organizations. Goings shared, “Due to COVID, we were not able to host Warm Welcome and our school community really missed it. We were excited to bring it back for the 2021-2022 school year. We have found that many of our regular participants also missed it.”

According to the middle school’s assistant principal Erin Street, the welcome Wednesdays started with agencies like the local police department and fire department. But this year, it has expanded to include other local groups and Street hopes to include even more as the school year continues.

So far this year, the students have been greeted by several organizations and there are new ones scheduled almost every week. On September 22, the Woodland Park High School Marching Band came and played for the middle school students while they walked into the school. On September 29, pastors from the Woodland Park Community Church came and gave each student a sucker to start their day. On October 6, workers from the CORE Electric Cooperative (previously IREA) brought their cherry picker trucks to greet the students.

Later on in the year, the police and fire departments along with Teller County Search and Rescue are all slated to make an appearance. The assistant principal said that a simple gesture of just telling students “good morning” can go a long way.

“They are there really just to say ‘good morning,’” Street said. “The kids are walking in and they are getting dropped off by their parents and by the buses. We have music playing and it is really just a ‘good morning.’ Some of the kids stop and talk, but mostly it’s just about starting their day in a positive manner by being greeted as they walk in. It is something so simple, but the smiles we get are pretty amazing.”

Street said that the program has been a good way for the school’s staff and students to build relationships with others in the community. “We’re a small community and we are all connected,” Street said. “But oftentimes the students can get in their own silos. And so we remind them that there are other people in our community that are cheering them on. School is important and they are here cheering them on as they go to school to help strengthen that community tie with our students.”

On the day the pastors from the community church came to the school, Head Pastor Kirk Greenstreet said that one of their dads had the idea to pass out suckers because that’s what the kids would have wanted. “I love the fact that we can come in to say ‘hi’ and get a chance for them to see us and we get to know them a little better,” Greenstreet said. “Most of our staff has kids that have either come through the school district or are still in the process right now. So it’s just so fun to connect.”

Mike McCorkell with CORE Electric Cooperative likes the fact that students get the chance to learn more about different career opportunities. “A lot of it is just to let the kids know what linemen do,” McCorkell said. “A lot of kids don’t know anything about power lines and it is a career opportunity and a good one at that. The other thing is we want to be a face in the community. When we are around doing power outages, we don’t want people scared of us when we are walking in their backyards. It could help because they might recognize us.”

The Warm Welcome Wednesdays are planned every week this year even when the temperatures drop in the wintertime.

About Woodland Park School District Re-2:
A Place of Becoming. Mission: Together, we embrace a culture where all learners are empowered to pursue intellectual, personal, and collective excellence.
Woodland Park School District Re-2, 155 Panther Way, Woodland Park, CO 80863. Phone: (719) 686-2000. Learn more at wpsdk12.org.