Ottumwa Schools invites the entire community to celebrate what it means to be a Bulldog during “Paws-itively Ottumwa: Where Bulldogs Belong Week,” January 20-24. The week has been endorsed by the City of Ottumwa through a mayoral proclamation. Throughout the week, the district will host events and activities that promote a sense of belonging for each and every student, staff member and the community. “The week is about each and every student belonging,” said Superintendent Davis Eidahl.
All schools will show their school pride by hosting a variety of theme days throughout the week. Elementary themes include ‘Merica Monday, Dress for Success Tuesday, WOW-White Out Wednesday, Hats Off to Ottumwa Schools Thursday, and Bulldog Day-Wear Red & White Friday. Secondary student themes include ‘Merica Monday, Team Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday, Throw Back Thursday, and Red & White Friday.
The week will kick off with the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on Monday, January 20 at 7 p.m. at Indian Hills Community College. The event, a collaboration between the college and school district, highlights King’s goal to encourage Americans to come together to strengthen communities, alleviate poverty, and acknowledge dignity and respect for all human beings.
On Tuesday, Kevin Wanzer will present a program during two assemblies at Ottumwa High School. Wanzer, an author and honors graduate from Butler University, has been speaking to high school audiences since he was in high school. His motivational message uses humor to educate students about prevalent teen issues, including staying drug-free and eliminating bullying behaviors.
Evans Middle School will host a Pep Rally after school prior to the girls basketball game. The middle school chorus will sing the National Anthem.
The district’s Community Advisory will hold their quarterly meeting Tuesday night in the OHS library. The meeting will begin with the mayor’s proclamation and highlight a new Evans Middle School program. The advisory, representing approximately 50 community members, developed the district’s Essential Learnings and Six Strategies to Increase Student Achievement, including creating a sense of belonging.
Wednesday will feature elementary writing throughout the community. Students will complete the sentence, “Best Thing About Being a Bulldog.”
On Thursday, the OHS speech students will host a Large Group Speech Open House in the high school auditorium at 6 p.m. OHS bowlers will host Mt. Pleasant and Des Moines North and OHS wrestlers will compete against Des Moines East at home.
On Friday, OHS will host a winter pep rally at 2:30 p.m. at OHS. Every elementary student will receive a free paw tattoo. The tattoo will allow them free admission to Friday night’s basketball games at Evans Middle School when accompanied by an adult. During half time, OHS senior basketball players and cheerleaders will recognize Ottumwa teachers who made a significant impact on their life.
Preschool students are also getting involved. Friday has been proclaimed Bulldogs in Training Day. Students will make puppy headbands, wear paw tattoos, and watch a movie, "The Truth About Puppies and Kittens," about acceptance and diversity.
Other activities that promote a sense of belonging include the debut of a new video on the district’s website (select the About Us tab, then superintendent welcome). The video, which highlights students from across the district, showcases opportunities to learn, lead and belong. The district will also kick-off a staff needs assessment, using a tool through the Iowa Association of School Boards.
“There will be activities at every school throughout the week,” said Eidahl. “This is a tremendous opportunity to involve the entire community, to highlight what we do 180 days a year.”