SUNNYSIDE At Sunnyside High School, staff are continually thinking of ways to inspire students.
There is an effort to help kids recognize the importance of coming to school, Assistant Principal James Wise said.
He is in charge of attendance and shares the belief with other administrators there are three things students need to be successful at school.
“They need to feel connected, as if they belong. They need to build a relationship with someone at school, students or staff. They need to envision their future,” Wise said.
Those elements for success are what inspired a video project, “You Matter at SHS.”
The video went live Dec. 20 and has been viewed on YouTube by more than 2,600 people.
“Students need to see what their potential is for a strong, vibrant future,” Wise said.
Finding ways to help the students at the High School believe in themselves is always the goal of the staff.
The video, which is linked to the School District, High School and other Facebook pages, looks at connecting the students, helping them build relationships and letting them envision the future they want to have.
Wise said it is a way for students who are in the video, as well as those who aren’t, to see they matter and provide them reasons to attend school.
“They will try harder,” he said.
“We wanted to capture a message and show they matter and are wanted,” Wise said.
For the project, teachers and staff were approached. They were asked to select a student who makes a difference in their day, “… someone who brightens their day and inspires them,” he said.
The teachers were recorded in a one-on-one conversation with those students.
“The students knew they were being recorded but not why,” Wise said.
“They told me they had a big surprise for me,” student participant Kennia Graciano said.
The teachers shared with the students why they are important. There were plenty of tears and emotions, Wise said.
Graciano was chosen by Career and Technical Education Director Holly Ohler.
“I was called in by the lady in charge of attendance… usually she calls in kids who’ve been skipping school,” Graciano, a junior at SHS said. “Then I saw Mrs. Ohler and Mr. Wise.”
Wise explained a little of what was happening, and Graciano was invited by Ohler to take a seat.
“When Mrs. Ohler explained why she chose me, I thought it was so nice,” Graciano said.
“I think it inspires people,” Wise’s daughter, Kennedy, interjected.
Wise said it is important for anyone to know they make a difference in the lives of others.
“The majority of the teachers used ‘Thank you for being you’, which is what was hoped,” Wise said.
Others said, “Thank you for making a difference in my life.”
Graciano said what Ohler shared made her happy. “I was really surprised,” she said of someone taking time to recognize her.
There were a lot of emotions felt, including gratitude and being honored.
“She could have chosen anyone, but she chose me,” Graciano said.
What stood out most was Ohler’s words about how Graciano smiles all the time. “I like to make people happy… I like to make them laugh,” the teen said, noting she enjoys school because of the friendships and the relationships with teachers.
Connecting, building relationships and envisioning a healthy future are key elements to anyone’s life, Wise said.
The response to the video, he said, has been positive.
“Students are the target audience,” Wise said. “I believe the video can motivate everyone.
“We have wonderful students at the high school — they are impressive, and we love them because of that,” he said.
Graciano thinks the project had to “… have made their (the students) day… the video was very emotional — It was nice for the school to do.”