Hutchings Creates ‘Super Bowl’ Atmosphere For Convocation


Hutchings greets teachers before his convocation speech.

Staff members exited the buses and walked through a human tunnel consisting mainly of the high school’s marching band, who serenaded the teachers with songs such as “Moves Like Jagger,” “Proud Mary” and, on two different occasions, the high school fight song.

“I almost cried,” fifth-grade teacher Charles Candel said. “It’s nice to be appreciated.”

High School Principal Michael Griffith sensed the convocation’s benefits. “The energy, the excitement. I think people are very much looking forward to the new leadership and the change,” Griffith said. “I have a strong sense from people that they’re really embracing what’s to come and excited about the opportunities that will come forward to try to make a difference for kids, so I think it was great.”

Hutchings said he wanted to make staff members feel like “they’re going to the Super Bowl.”

To some teachers, Hutchings succeeded in that goal. “It’s like the Academy Awards!” social studies teacher Terrence Pollack said.

Also present were community members and students holding signs welcoming the staff members back. A small group of parents even offered teachers Smarties, accompanied by a sign thanking teachers and staff for “helping our students become smarties!”

“It’s usually the students who walk through and they’re cheered,” Fernway teacher Ellen Battle said. “It was kinda nice to feel appreciated.”

All district staff members were expected to attend the convocation, including teachers, administrators, counselors, bus drivers and custodial staff. Hutchings made a point of shaking every staff member’s hand on his/her way into the large auditorium.

“He’s just a wonderful superintendent, you know. New ideas,” middle school English teacher Valerie Weaver said. “I think is going to be a wonderful, positive year.”

Shaker Heights Mayor Earl Leiken, in attendance as well, praised Hutchings and the event. “It creates a wonderful tradition to bring the whole school family together at the beginning of the year. . . I would like to see it done every year,” Leiken said. “I think he’s doing a wonderful job, I think he’s an extremely effective communicator. I think he’s off to a splendid start.”

To read about Hutchings’ speech and the convocation itself, read Campus and City Editor John Vodrey’s story here.

See photos from Photo Editor Will McKnight and Print Editor in Chief Shane McKeon below.

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