Making the Most of Your School’s Opening Day


Written by Paul J. Berardelli and Michele Hill 

“You always get a special kick on Opening Day, no matter how many you go through,” said Yankees legend and Hall of Fame center fielder Joe DiMaggio. “You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.”–and it should!

Opening day at the ballpark is filled with enthusiasm, excitement, and anticipation for everyone involved: the players, the manager, the owner, and of course… the fans. In a school, the staff, members of the administration and the students, opening day sets the stage for the school year. Every opening day should be filled with tradition and celebration; you only get one a year, so make it count! Enlist the help of others to create a magical opening day experience for your students and staff. Knock it out of the park!

Choose a Theme

What message do you want to deliver to your staff and students? Don’t underestimate the importance of having a theme that reinforces your message throughout the year. Kick off the new year highlighting your theme and continue to build upon it in your communications, faculty meetings and assemblies. For a big impact, weave your theme into as many things as possible for the year.

Determine Your Roster

Highlight your veteran staff members achievements and milestones. Put together a presentation or video of staff members doing cool things or celebrating milestones with family. Speaking of rosters, don’t forget the rookies! Make sure to introduce your new staff members to the family with some fanfare.

Buy Them Some Peanuts and Cracker Jacks

Who doesn’t like snacks? Provide some tasty morsels to help celebrate. If you can coordinate them with your theme, all the better!

Sing Your National Anthems

It’s a tradition to play the National Anthem at every opening day of sporting events; people would be disappointed if they didn’t. Make sure to uphold traditions that are important to the students and staff in your school. People look forward to meaningful experiences and traditions. Don’t have any? Start some this year.

Throw a Shirt into the Crowd

Fan gear, stickers, custom school supplies, and other (free)stuff helps to get people excited about school. Create custom T-shirts for staff and students tied into the theme to drive home the opening day message–talk about powerful!


Every great celebration has great music. Choose upbeat tunes to welcome back your staff and students. Pump it out through the intercom/speakers as they enter the building, presentation room and classroom. Have students and staff participate in fun activities and celebration that get them moving and grooving. Anything that gets them excited about the possibilities of the new school year is awesome. Oh, don’t forget the confetti cannons and the red carpet!

Put People on the Jumbotron

Create a selfie station or green screen station and have students and staff post on social media with a custom hashtag. This is a great opportunity to showcase the excitement of back to school–and have fun doing it!

Keep Them on the Edge of Their Seats

Plan some fun–but unexpected activities that build excitement with your students and staff. Try some ice-breaking activities, scavenger hunts, and team building activities. People may be apprehensive at first, but your positive energy will help to build the enthusiasm.

Keep the Crowd Pumped Up

You did an amazing job of getting them all fired up and enthusiastic about the new school year. Make sure that what happens next doesn’t kill the positive energy. Schedule the must do checklist things so that they are not killjoys. Sure, they are very important and need to be done, but space them out or schedule so they do not overwhelm students and staff.

Hit a Home Run

The crowd goes wild when the player runs across home plate–and opening day is your opportunity to score a home run with your students and staff. Don’t miss the opportunity to make it memorable!

“Time begins on opening day when something fine–almost wonderful is about to happen”–Thomas Boswell 

Paul J. Berardelli is a proud principal of Delsea Regional High School. Paul has challenged himself to be a true educational leader by inspiring his staff and students to excel. More recently, Paul has been featured in ASCD Journal for his article “Road Tested / Getting Up to Speed with Speed PD” and “Why Every Administrator Should Team Teach” and “Our Teachers Deserve More Praise”, and numerous blog posts in ASCD Inservice. You can follow Paul on Twitter @PaulBerardelli

Michele Hill is a passionate educator who serves as a coordinator of admissions and communications at Burlington County Institute of Technology. Throughout her career as an educator, Michele has been a champion for struggling and impoverished students. Michele has been a guest blogger for ASCD Inservice, McGraw Hill, Principal Leadership, Teacher Tool Kit UK, Edweek and ASCD Road Tested. Michele is the producer of DisruptEdTV School Spotlight. You can follow Michele on Twitter @HillMrispo or visit her blog:

This article is part of a monthly series from Michele Hill and Paul Berardelli where they share their advice and expertise as a classroom teacher and school administrator who demonstrate the importance of working together to help create a school culture of excellence. You can read more from them by clicking on the ‘Dynamic Synergy’ tag or by clicking here.