Ukiah Unified School District

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The Power of Partnership, Innovation and Learning

School Desk: Homecoming is About Belonging

As the proud principal of Ukiah High School, I am thrilled to share with you that it has been a great start to the school year as well as my tenure as your principal. This month is an important and historical one in the history of our school and our city: it is Homecoming week! Homecoming is not just about celebrating school spirit and tradition; it’s also an opportunity to focus on the well-being of our adolescent students. I want to highlight the importance of adolescent wellness at our school and how homecoming plays a crucial role in fostering a supportive environment for our students.

Adolescent wellness is a topic that holds immense significance in the world of education today. It is also part of my top objective as an educational leader. The teenage years are a period of rapid growth and development, both physically and mentally. It’s a time when students are navigating a myriad of challenges, from academic pressures to social dynamics, and trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in. We understand the importance of creating a nurturing environment that addresses the unique needs of our adolescent students.

Homecoming, an annual tradition that brings our school community together, serves as a platform to reinforce our commitment to adolescent wellness. It’s not just about the football game, the class competition, or the dance. It’s about creating a sense of belonging, building positive relationships, and fostering a supportive atmosphere where our students can thrive.

One of the key aspects of adolescent wellness is a sense of belonging. Teenagers often struggle with feelings of isolation and loneliness. Homecoming is an event where every student can feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Through various activities and decorations, we celebrated the diverse backgrounds and interests of our students, reinforcing the message that everyone is welcome and valued at UHS. A strong sense of belonging helps to foster a connection to school that also leads to better interest in attending classes. 

Moreover, homecoming is an opportunity to build positive relationships among students, staff, and parents. There is a series of events leading up to the homecoming dance, such as spirit week, pep rallies, community service projects, and of course, the parade. These activities not only boost school spirit but also encourage interaction between students of different grade levels and backgrounds. Building these connections is essential for adolescent wellness because it helps students feel supported and understood.

In addition to promoting a sense of belonging and positive relationships, we also took steps to address the emotional and mental well-being of our students during homecoming week. This week we launched new groups, led by our social-emotional counselors, that address issues named as important by students during a recent Wellness Wednesday. These groups center around anxiety/stress management, healthy relationships, growth mindset, and self care.

Lastly, our student leadership worked to find ways to include participation from all students on campus during the week’s activities. This is in an attempt to foster more belonging and create through action an anti-bullying message throughout our homecoming festivities. Bullying can have a devastating impact on adolescent wellness, and as a school, we are committed to creating a safe and respectful environment for all students. 

Homecoming at UHS is much more than a traditional event. It is a celebration of adolescent wellness, a reminder that our school is a place where every student is valued, supported, and encouraged to be their best selves. Through a focus on belonging, positive relationships, emotional and mental well-being, physical health, and a commitment to inclusion and anti-bullying, we strive to create an environment where our students can thrive academically and personally.

Thank you for your continued support of our school and our mission to prioritize the well-being of our adolescent students. Together, we can make Ukiah High School a place where every student can flourish.