With the help from the community, Great Lakes Elementary School aims to start every Friday morning with a smile and a high five. University of Wisconsin-Superior athletes were the first to put skin in the game for the school's High Five Friday initiative.
The program kicked off Nov. 2 with the UWS men's soccer team. Teammates lined up at the entrance to the school, handing out high fives to each child who walked in the door.
"It was funny because kids were going through the line and going back outside so they could go through the line again," Great Lakes PTA President Sara Schubert McKone said. "It was super fun."
Keeping the Yellowjacket momentum going, 15 members of the UWS men's basketball team dropped by the school Nov. 9 to deliver high fives, bust a few dance moves and chat with students before class began. Some students even attempted to smack the upraised hand of 6-foot-8-inch tall freshman Joan Giner of Spain.
Coach Greg Polkowski said he heard the buzz about High Five Friday from men's soccer coach Joe Mooney.
"I just know we wanted to be a part of it if possible," Polkowski said. "We like to be involved in the community."
When she initially reached out to community members and organizations, Schubert McKone said, the response was slow.
"It didn't take off right away," she said. "You name it, I emailed them: the Shriners, the Kiwanis ... the police officers, Gold Cross, the fire department."
Then the soccer team started spreading the word.
"All of the UWS head coaches for sports are being very supportive of the cause," Schubert McKone said. "They're all emailing me. It's wonderful."
Jessica Brown traded high fives with the basketball team while dropping off her son Nov. 9.
"It's amazing," she said of High Five Fridays. "I think it's real encouraging; it starts their day off really good."
The game plan is simple. With 30 minutes of high fives and encouraging words, the school aims to start Fridays with a positive outlook and instill a sense of togetherness.
"Everybody's excited at the same time; everybody's together. It's fun," Schubert McKone said.
Upcoming high-fivers include Superior Mayor Jim Paine, 2nd District City Councilor Jenny Van Sickle, the UWS women's basketball team and Santa.
"We are actually booked until January," Schubert McKone said, but they are looking for community groups to take 2019 slots.
Follow the Great Lakes Elementary PTA on Facebook or call the school at 715-395-8500 for more information on High Five Friday.
On the heels of the Friday morning fun, the Great Lakes PTA has rolled out a campaign to sponsor student field trips. The PTA is seeking to raise $10 for each of its 470 students to cover field trips throughout the year. The campaign provides an opportunity for grandparents and relatives who live too far away to take part in traditional pizza and cookie dough fundraisers to help support students.
Funds can be donated online via PayPal or by mailing a check to the school.
Last year, the PTA raised more than $33,000 to support students. The group organizes free monthly events like the recent Fall Fest, pays for student field trips, purchases playground equipment and library items, provides pizza parties and prizes for contests and much more.
Sponsoring a child, Schubert McKons said, "Gives us the opportunity to give even more to the kids."