Cultivating Community With Class Traditions

Schindler, Forde, and Roberts keep students engaged with fun traditions


Sarah Villa

Students aim high in Mr. Forde’s class to get out of classwork

Sarah Villa and Ella Ward

Dealing with early morning wake-ups in order to get to school can be dreadful for most students, but the energy and excitement certain teachers bring to teaching make attending class something to look forward to at SHS. Treasured classroom traditions invented by educators like Jonathan Schindler and Jamie Forde of the math department and Andrew Roberts of the history department have brightened the spirits of students, created special classroom bonds, and fostered academic enjoyment. 

Schindler’s comical approach to recognizing students’ “out of pocket” behavior is playfully done through his board of “Techs,” a designated whiteboard where student names are recorded. With “Techs” representing “technical fouls,” students are regularly “T-d up” for a variety of reasons: making bad jokes, causing controversy, or simply being deemed worthy of a “Tech” for a reason determined by Schindler. Senior Abby Spires was “T-d” up on multiple occasions, receiving a Tech once for making a Tik Tok during class. Spires noted that “the class bonding that his tradition helped to create definitely brought everyone closer and led to a lot of much-needed laughter.” 

In Forde’s classroom, students are overwhelmed with a sense of excitement, anticipation, and tension, as his specific classroom tradition may get them out of doing any work that day. Forde uses his calculator to randomly select a student in the class who then receives three crumpled balls of paper to attempt to shoot into a cup perched on a high shelf. Should the student make the shot, the class gets out of doing any work for the day. However, should the selected student miss all three shots, the class resumes as normal as the student feels the light-hearted wrath of their fellow classmates. Especially during a particularly tiring school day, students like senior Devyn Trayers find that “the engagement of this tradition is a much-needed change in pace during the day.” 

In room 230, Roberts takes a community approach to generate enthusiasm. Roberts’s classes create a greeting specific to each block. For example, this year’s C Block class chose to begin class with Roberts saying, “Are you ready, kids?” as the class responds with, “Aye, aye, Captain!” Some other class greetings include B Block’s “Kars 4 Kids” jingle and G Block’s “Applebee’s” slogan. Cultivating this tradition about four years ago, Roberts explained that he tries to “bring a lot of energy to class every day.” According to Roberts, “Having a class greeting helps with engagement and lets students know that they can take chances in class.” Roberts said students who feel more comfortable with their teacher and peers are more likely to feel enthusiastic, which leads them to participate and learn. He refers to the students in each block as becoming “like a family” by the end of each year. 

Memorable traditions such as those practiced by Schindler, Forde, and Roberts have positively impacted the days and lives of students. With their genuine appreciation for students and a strong desire to generate positivity, these SHS educators cultivate an engaging community atmosphere at SHS.