“Together We Rise”: Inclusiveness and Unity at Petaluma High
Last year, the Sonoma County fires took a toll on students, families and faculty. People lost their homes and their possessions. Students and teachers lost a week of school, causing them to fall behind. Despite this, the school remained resilient, and it did not go unnoticed. This year’s school slogan, “Together We Rise,” has an overall message of unity and inclusiveness throughout the community and school; one example of this unity is how people in the community have helped each other in times of need, such as during the fires.
ASB president Simone Smith, senior, worked together with the administration to create the slogan. For Smith, unity and rising together has been part of her vision during her three years in leadership, and inclusiveness goes along with that. “Our [grade level] classes are extremely separated at this school,” said Smith. “So the goal for this year is for that to change and the culture around that to change.” She explained that the slogan represents a goal to rise above what the community and the school has been through in the past year.
Another aspect of this slogan is inclusiveness. This year, the school has 400 freshmen, many more than the usual 300-375. Principal David Stirrat explained that this larger number is actually not so sudden, but has been gradually developing over time. According to Stirrat, there are more people being attracted to Petaluma High School who are not from Petaluma Junior High School, the typical feeder school. Some students are coming from outside Petaluma High School, even as far as Novato and Santa Rosa.
With so many freshmen, it becomes increasingly important to make sure that freshmen have a smoother transition at a large school, and that they feel welcome. “We don’t want them to feel like they’re the lowest on the totem pole. We want them to feel accepted,” said Delaney Johnson, a junior in ASB.
One program at the school that helps freshmen with this transition is Link Crew. McClelland explained that Link Crew is going to be hosting more activities for freshmen throughout the year, such as the lunchtime cornhole tournament. Link Crew will also place an emphasis on making sure the Link Leaders are checking in with the freshmen, not just on the first day of school, but throughout the school year.
Throughout the rest of the year, ASB and Link Crew will continue to implement this message of unity and inclusion for everyone throughout the school. Stirrat explained the meaning behind the slogan as “a spirit of equity.” He continued that the motto “simply means that everyone has the same opportunities, and that the school provides opportunities for everyone, which may not be equal.” Through this spirit of equity, unity and equality, Petaluma High will rise together as one to face any challenge and accomplish any goal that this school year brings.