Paczki are deep-fried, jelly filled pastries that are traditionally eaten on Fat Tuesday. While originally a Polish tradition, the practice continues in the Midwest where Polish immigrants brought their culture generations ago. And, lucky for us, we were hosting a WEB and Link Crew Basic Training in Michigan on Fat Tuesday…so bring on the Paczki! Yummy! And what a great opportunity to have that cultural experience (fortunately, when it’s a cultural experience, by the way, the calories don’t count!).
With the Paczki came a conversation about other cultural experiences and how culture gets formed. Culture is formed by traditions, philosophies and practices committed by a group again and again. Families have a culture. Circles of friends have a culture. Towns and cities have a culture. States have a culture. Regions have a culture. And yes, schools have a culture.
If someone were to spend an hour in your school, what would they say your culture is? What would it feel like? What would they see? Would they want to spend more time there? Or would they be looking for the exit door quickly? What we do each day creates our school culture, and WEB and Link Crew are integral parts to creating a school culture.
At L’anse Creuse North High School in L’anse Creuse, MI, they refer to their culture as “Crusader Nation”. From the moment freshmen walk into the orientation, they hear “Welcome to Crusader Nation” and see signs that say, “You belong to the Crusader Nation”. While this tradition and language was introduced by a principal, with repetition and persistent usage, the entire school now understands what it means to be a member of the “Crusader Nation”. Although the principal has left the school, his legacy remains by creating a culture that felt like family. The culture states that once someone is a part of the "Crusader Nation", they are always a part of the "Crusader Nation": always a member of the family. One of Link Crew’s primary responsibilities is to ensure that freshmen understand what it means to be a member of the “Crusader Nation”. It is part of their welcome. It is part of their What Every Freshman Should Know. It is the cornerstone for bringing new students into the family of L’anse Creuse North.
South Milwaukee Middle School in Milwaukee, WI shows their culture literally on the walls of their school. They want ALL students to know that they are active participants and have a stake in creating a positive school culture. Visitors would see student work displayed on the hallway walls. Visitors would also be struck at how important student representation and leadership is by the roles that students play. WEB Leaders bring not only a voice to the 6th graders’ success but also to decisions traditionally made by adult only committees. They would see WEB Leaders being active participants in the school wide implementation of PBIS. Their school culture embodies student involvement and engagement.
What is your school culture and how are you intentionally using your WEB and Link Crew program to contribute to that culture? Remember, you have an amazing group of students who, with some guidance and leadership from you, are fully capable of creating the culture that you want your school to have.
And next year, find a Paczki on Fat Tuesday!