Edison Intermediate/Larry Larson Middle School traditionally holds a field day for students as the school year draws to a close.
This year, students participated in a learning field day on the first day of school, Aug. 13.
"It's a continuation of the PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) effort we've been working on in our school," said Cheryl Brown, the school's student-staff support specialist.
PBIS is a research-based approach to improve school climate and create safer and more effective schools.
"Over the summer, (teachers and staff members) met to come up with ways to build our school community, morale and the spirit of cooperation in our building," Brown said.
On the first day of school, after spending an initial session in their homeroom, students were assigned to a group, mostly consisting of two students each from grades 4-8, she said. A teacher, staff member or adult volunteer was assigned to each group.
The teams of students and teachers rotated in morning and afternoon sessions to activities that involved working together to complete a task, Brown said.
The activities included everything from building a roller coaster to games of Jeopardy! involving Grandview and Columbus trivia to a balloon toss in which students tried not to break a water balloon they were throwing to each other while taking a step back after every toss.
In another activity, students worked on building pyramids as tall as they could using paper cups.
"We're hoping the activities will help students get to know each other across grade levels," Brown said. "Ideally, the older kids will embrace the opportunity to be mentors and role models for the younger students. Perhaps if an older student sees that someone is picking on a younger student, they will step in and stop it after getting to know some of the younger kids through these activities."
The groups will participate in various team-building activities throughout the school year, she said.
The first day's activities included a cookout on the playground at lunch time.
Toward the end of the day, each team decorated a door in the building.
"Along with trying to create a spirit of cooperation and community in the school, we also wanted to have activities that helped ease students into the new school year," Brown said.
Fifth-grader Harvey Pierce said he enjoyed the field-day activities.
"It sure was different from any first day of school we've had before," he said.
He enjoyed getting to know some of the older students, Pierce said.
"It's like they've experienced what you're experiencing," he said. "It sort of helps knowing someone who has gone through the same things."
Seventh-grader Luke Lachey said he was expecting the first day to be like any other year.
"It was a surprise," he said.
Teaming with students from the intermediate grades reminded him of what it was like to be their age, Lachey said.
"It maybe makes me want to try to be a role model and look out for them," he said.
Plus, the field day "was a lot of fun," Lachey said. "It was better than just starting right off with our classes and a bunch of homework."