Penguins on Parade as Perkins Celebrates a New School Year

Penguin pride on display at the Perkins back-to-school parade.

Penguin pride on display at the Perkins back-to-school parade.

Okay, the title March of the Penguins is already taken by the academy award-winning documentary film that is so named, but still…

Perkins Elementary School started an annual parade to celebrate the start of each new school year when Principal Dan Koss arrived four years ago. It’s a great mood-setter that Koss came up with as a demonstration of his conviction that strong, effective education should strike a balance between cutting edge best practices and good old-fashioned fun.

Friday morning’s all-school procession around a square block that began and ended at the school’s campus was raucous and rowdy despite cloudy, muggy conditions. There were no floats; no candy being tossed or princesses waving from slow-rolling convertibles. But there was an abundance of the one ingredient that’s vital to all parades – kids!

There were also a police escort and plenty of onlookers lining the neighborhood curbs. Koss and PE teacher/big kid Mike Southmayd carried bullhorns and shouted out chants for the parading Penguins to holler back responsively, as per their marching orders. Besides the exercise inherent in the lap around the neighborhood some of the chanting might even qualify as cross-curricular.

“Gimme a P…gimme an E…gimme an R…”

“I say number, you say one…”

Down College Avenue to 45th Street; left to Forest Avenue; another left to 44th and then down the homestretch back to headquarters. It would have been a good morning to be a realtor showing a house to a young family in the Perkins area.

Even the kindergartners quickly fell in stride and got the hang of it. You could almost see the thought, “Gee, I never knew school was going to be like this…” in the looks on their wide-eyed faces.

Fifth grader Charles Walker was at the front of the procession spinning a basketball on the tip of his index finger like a top. At one point he borrowed a pen from someone strolling alongside and spun the ball on a ballpoint.

“It’s like herding cats,” one smiling teacher was heard to observe from the ranks. Penguins, she probably meant to say.

Koss credits the emerging tradition with being a catalyst for Perkins’ renewed engagement in its surrounding community. “Our Parent-Teacher Leadership Council is unique in the district,” he pointed out. “The support we get from our community now is tremendous.”

When the route was completed and everyone was safely back on campus necks craned upward, watching a colorful flotilla of balloons soar out of sight. Then four hundred+ kids and their teachers went inside to get back to work and do likewise.

Photos of the Perkins Back-to-School Parade

Created with flickr slideshow.
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