Northern Hills Wins Living the Dream Award

Northern Hills Wins Living the Dream Award
Posted on 02/09/2023
Northern Hills has spent the last two years being very intentional when it comes to solving the “Belonging Gap.”  "This is the idea that in a post-covid era, students, and adults, are seeking out the need to feel a connection to others and that true academic excellence can’t happen until we all feel that connection and purpose to where we are." said Principal David Ralph. "At Northern Hills we have put many systems and ideas in place to uphold the philosophy that 'Every Bulldog Belongs."

After-school belonging groups have been formed at Northern Hills with a focus on building community and connection.  Kids sign up for various activities ranging from game club, lego club, nature club, arts/crafts club, and more.  These clubs rotate each month with the sole purpose of allowing kids to have an opportunity for community and connection. 

"All students are our students, said Ralph. "Often people say this occurs within their educational buildings, but at Northern Hills we live it. Inclusivity for all is not only expected, inclusivity for all is celebrated.  We house two STARS classrooms which are district level classrooms with speciality programming designed for students with more severe exceptionalities such as autism and/or down syndrome.  In addition, we house our Low Incidence classroom which is for students who experience more intensive disabilities. We also house our English Language Learning elementary students for the district. These students are not just a part of our building but are woven into the inclusivity fabric that represent our building in student council, holding jobs within the building, and each has a classroom buddy at multiple levels that meet on Friday afternoons to cook and/or create art."

Northern Hills' mantra this year, “Every Bulldog Belongs” also means that all students take ownership of the great things happening in our building. Students have jobs ranging from morning door greeter, recycler, library book clerk, and more. "We want students to know the importance of pride and integrity and our school jobs are designed to teach responsibility at a practical hands-on level," said Ralph.

"When you walk into our building we hope that you immediately notice our sayings purposely placed on the walls.  Sayings like “be the kind kid,” “fair is not always equal,” and “do the right thing, even if it’s hard” echo the idea that integrity is vital to growing up to be a productive member of society.  We invite our community into the building as often as we can to witness the culture being sustained within our walls.  For our community we host a daily Viking Volunteer to enter the building and assist in student learning.  In addition, we host a reading night, a math night, a Veterans Day parade, celebrated grandparents day with a breakfast of almost four hundred people, walkathon, school carnival, touch a truck, career day, and more just to name a few community connections.  When Every Bulldog Belongs our community is right there alongside and our community has demonstrated that the need to belong is more important now than ever.  When each of these events occurs students assist in organizing and implementing which instills within them the idea of service before self.  When one of our students hands a Veteran a handmade thank you card they understand service.  When we serve grandparents breakfast and then give them a tour of our building they know appreciation and pride of something larger."

It’s not unusual to show up at Northern Hills and see nearly the entire building dressed up for a regular theme day and this includes the principal! "While we expect excellence in all we do we also know to enjoy life and have fun with each other," said Ralph. "In these shared experiences is when true relationships and community are built. We hold high expectations of when it comes to being safe, being respectful, and being responsible and even have systems in place to acknowledge students that go above and beyond with positive office referrals, which allows teachers to recognize students and to then call home from the Principal’s office to celebrate.  We also have quarterly Apple Awards to allow students to recognize and reward teachers who are going above and beyond.  When students, staff, and our community hold high standards of excellence for all we know that Every Bulldog Belongs."