Pulling for a change

The Renaissance Rally will be Friday, April 27


Kaylee Todd

Norrim Holder (11), Michael Orso (11), Sara Mocker (10), Hayley Jakovich (10), and Cameron Robinson (10) play tug of war, April 29, 2016. Students can take a break from academics by playing games and hanging out at the Rally.

Sitting at a desk for seven hours, five days a week can be stressful. Not only that, but additional mental health issues can pile on the stress for students. Students may feel as though their efforts go unrecognized and that they never get a break from the pressures of school.

Renaissance is planning a school-wide rally on Friday, April 27.

“Renaissance is all about showing or creating an environment of students knowing that their work and their effort is appreciated by the school.” Grayson Lynch, Renaissance executive, said. “It’s to show that school is also for them. We’re here to make them understand that we do appreciate their effort.”

Renaissance is a national club that is supported by Jostens, a memorabilia manufacturing company that provides Rockwood schools with class rings and graduation packages.

Any EHS student with a GPA greater than 3.0 qualifies for Renaissance, so 1,257 students total. This breaks down by grade as follows:

9th grade – 311
10th grade – 294
11th grade – 271
12th grade – 381

“Renaissance schools reward students for actions and achievements that align with what the school respects,” according to a mission statement by Jostens.

The purpose of Renaissance is to support students who have committed themselves to academic excellence.

“Renaissance is a club that recognizes, rewards and supports students, staff, and teachers for their academic achievements and for helping kids to do well,” Kirsten Brauch, Language Arts, said.

Five students known as Renaissance Executives are planning the Rally. These students stood out among the original 30 on the leadership team.

“We show teachers and staff who work hard everyday that we appreciate them and care about them,” Mikayla Shy, Renaissance executive, said. “We are bringing awareness to all of the great things here.”

Renaissance gives various awards throughout the year such as Gold Standard and Teacher of the Month/Year, Student of the Month and Staff Member of the Month to reinforce their mission of rewarding positive achievements.

Traditionally, Renaissance has held a carnival each spring to highlight students’ academics and to foster a sense of community between students and faculty in a school setting.

“We had a few different ideas, but then the word got out that we might not be doing the Carnival this year and everybody freaked out,” Shy said. “The rally is going to be a little different this year because previously the carnival was just for fun and this year, we’re trying to focus more on actual academic achievement.”

This year, Renaissance leaders considered different options but decided to continue and rename the Carnival as a Rally to include the recognition aspect of the day.

“One of the big differences is getting back to our mission and having more of the academic recognition,” Brauch said. “We’re using the large theatre, and each class is going to have a half hour ceremony that is recognizing those who won academic awards this year.”

The decision to focus the Rally on academic achievement more than just fun is partially a result of teachers’ concern that the shortened class schedule to accommodate the rally is not worth the rewards of the event.

“At the beginning of the year we had our issue of there being some teachers and staff who didn’t want us to have the Carnival this year,” Shy said. “We had to change it around a little bit so that we did focus more on academics so that we could actually have it.”

Teachers concern over the Rally is a sentiment that is shared by some students as well who do not see the purpose that Renaissance is supporting.

“I don’t know much about the rally, other than that they had Guitar Hero last year,” Jacob Schott (11) said. “I don’t know if I’d go again.”

Some students consider the Rally irrelevant and may leave school. Over 300 students were marked absent at the 2016 Carnival.

“It was fun and I had a good time last year,” Jack Johnson (12) said. “It was nice to just hang out.”

While Renaissance seeks to combat students emotions of stress at school and feelings of a lack of community, last year seemed one-sided to many.

“One of the things that has definitely been hard is that a lot of the seniors that we had last year left, so it has kind of been on us to get everybody together,” Taylor Barlow, Renaissance executive, said. “Mainly this year has been getting everyone who has been disjointed to come together and to be able to work together as one whole, and it’s been one of our struggles this year.”

This apathetic attitude is what Renaissance is attempting to eliminate even within the organization itself.

“There’s been a lack of experience because these kids are so new, we’re just trying to find our way,” Brauch said. “Hopefully, we’ve found a bit of a rhythm in the last few weeks, so we can move forward and I think it’s in a more positive direction.”

The disjointedness that has permeated Renaissance this year is part of what has caused the club to struggle.

Membership is also a factor that has caused Renaissance to struggle, as they seek to grow the club and to maximize its impact in the community.

“We have so many ideas and we would like more people to jump on and help us out just through involvement. I’m one of five leaders and we’re a measly group of almost just 25 people and we’d love to have 100,” Lynch said.

Despite the difficulties that Renaissance has faced, they continue to plan the Rally and persevere.

“There’s no other way to do it than just alright, you deal with the situation, you don’t panic, and you just make it work,” Brauch said.   

Friday will be an A-day and the shortened schedule for the Renaissance Rally is as follows:

1st: 8:16-8:40 (24 min)
2nd: 8:46-9:10 (24 min)
3rd: 9:16-9:40 (24 min)
5th: 9:46-10:10 (24 min)
6th: 10:16-10:40 (24 min)
4th: 10:46-12:00
Lunch A:  10:40-11:09 (Warning Bell 11:05)
Lunch B:  11:09-11:37 (Warning Bell 11:33)
Lunch C:  11:37-12:06 (Warning Bell 12:00)
7th: 12:06-12:30 (24 min)
Renaissance Rally: 12:35-3:01 (then collect bags from 7th hour)