RANDOLPH, NJ- Students from Ironia school in Randolph were more than happy to get outside and complete an “unofficial” homework assignment they received from their school this past weekend. The movement, nicknamed #Randolphunited, brought kids out of the house with sidewalk chalk in hand to script inspiring and positive messages on their driveways.
“This initiative started with the Ironia PTO board, after seeing the idea on Facebook and thought it would be a great way to get our kids involved in something positive,” said PTO member Fran Tighe. “We are encouraging them to get outside and do something fun to unite our already strong community. We hope to extend the positive drawings and #randolphunited throughout the entire community.”
The school then took the reins and communicated the idea to students through Twitter.
Our school counselor, Ms. Megan Ingman engaged the kids on the Chalk Your Walk idea,” said Ironia Principal David Kricheff. “She tweeted out a message on Friday as a part of the International Day of Happiness. Students were encouraged to write a positive message on their driveway or sidewalk, take a picture of themselves with that message, and then share those photos.”
Photos of the children’s artwork started showing up on Facebook and other social media outlets Sunday afternoon, and were met with positive comments and words of appreciation.
“Some families are even starting to leave notes on each other's driveways too, which is a great extension of the idea,” said PTO member Jamie Johnson.
Ironia’s teaching staff has been working hard to stay focused on the task of teaching, while also being creative and spreading some fun during this challenging time.
“Our principal David Kricheff has been hosting a morning meeting on his twitter page, and the school has organized a ‘Spirit Week’ so the kids can dress up and send pictures in to be shared,” said Tighe. “Virtual learning is definitely an adjustment, but our teachers have done an incredible job staying in touch with students and parents.”
Kricheff has tried to engage the entire Ironia community via Twitter @PrincipalKrich and #RandolphSchools every day. He begins with a video morning message that is very similar to what students would hear over the PA system prior to the start of school. The messages include a weather update to announce indoor or outdoor recess, student birthdays, the pledge of allegiance, Ironia’s Platinum Rule, and any other messages of the day (spirit week activities, jokes, challenges, etc.).
“My staff is doing well at this time, but are missing their students,” said Kricheff. “We have been communicating daily, and each day they share new ways that they have connected with their kids. They have been reaching out to students via virtual meetings, emails, and phone calls to help keep them focused and engaged in their learning.”
With all the ‘well-deserved’ negative connotations that social media has earned for the problems it can cause, there is some irony in the fact that it has suddenly become the exact opposite, providing a tremendous amount of help in connecting kids during this difficult time.
“I feel that social media has allowed us all to remain connected in this time of social distancing,” said Kricheff. “I think it has helped the kids to see what their Principal, teachers, and friends are doing. I can see from my own children, that they are missing seeing their friends and teachers in person and believe that this type of sharing provides comfort and joy to Ironia students.”
The Ironia PTO board members are Tighe, Johnson, Tara Novak, Karen Galluzzo, Jennifer Freeman and Karen Hines.