February 24, 2016 16:40 Age: 2 yrs

Building a Community with Town Hall

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Kelley Fournier is an operations associate at AF Hartford Elementary Academy.

Walking through AF Hartford Elementary Academy early on a Friday morning, there's an unexpected quiet in the hallways and classrooms. But when you walk by the gym, you feel energy that is alive and accompanied by music and cheering. Every Friday morning, all students, teachers and a growing number of parents and families file into the gym to share in a magical experience we call Town Hall.

My own fondest memories of elementary school center on school assemblies. Packing into the auditorium, seeing special performances and musical guests or being honored with awards – it was all exciting and fun. I remember the way those times made my eyes light up and my interests broaden, the same things I see in our students now. 

At Town Hall, our principal Mr. Peterson leads us in a celebration of school spirit, cultural and arts awareness, and most importantly, community building. We come together for student performances, classroom presentations, community guests, arts activities and special games. Recently, some of our first grade students read quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. to celebrate his birthday. I see the impact this has on our students and staff because it creates excitement about remembering our past and celebrating our future.

A hallmark of the Town Hall program is the REACH Wheel Raffle – when one student per grade is selected to spin the REACH Wheel and earn a special prize. Students earn chances to spin the REACH Wheel by displaying REACH values (Respect, Enthusiasm, Achievement, Citizenship, Hard work) and doing things like helping a friend in need, following directions during class or advancing to new levels in reading or math. Each week, we get tons of raffle tickets for students seen exemplifying the best of themselves.

Our Town Hall is building a culture where students get excited about doing the right thing – regardless of whether or not they win a prize. This program started in October, and since then, kids have gotten over 15,000 raffle tickets. Every day students proudly stop staff in the hallway to share the good deeds they’ve done and how they will continue to do such things because it is simply the right thing to do.

I am proud to work at a place that continues to inspire students to love our school, cheer for their classmates and to live by REACH values.

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