POTSDAM — “SQUAT, BABY, SQUAT! Feel it, baby! Feel that stretch! Pull up!” bellowed teacher’s assistant Dan Davis, on the turf of the Potsdam High School on Friday morning.

Mr. Davis was leading a group of students through what he called “raccoon circles,” which is a trust exercise in which everyone hangs on to some sort of circular rope while squatting, thus holding up the person across from you. It never lasted long before everyone fell.

Aside from raccoon circles, students could be seen playing pipeline — another trust exercise in which two people have to use pipes to carry a ball across the girth of the turf — as well as KanJam, cornhole, and stacking tables, which is almost exactly what it sounds like.

These activities were part of the high school’s first day of classes for the 2021-2022 year.

“Since we had a half-day of classes, we figured for the second half of the day we’d get the kids outside doing experiential activities,” Mr. Davis said.

“This is for everybody in the school as a sort of welcome back,” he said.

As part of the festivities, there was also a club fair to let returning students know what clubs were available through the high school. These included the Positivity Club, the Gay Straight Alliance, Whiz Quiz, Robotics Club, French Club, Future Farmers of America, and plenty more.

“Coming back to school on a Friday is tough on the kids,” said Athletic Director and Dean of Students Mark Wilson.

“So we had a half day inside where kids went through all their classes, and this second half of the day we’ve got team building exercises and a club fair, and then at 12:30 p.m. is when we’re going to take a picture of the big ‘P.’”

The “big P,” to which Mr. Wilson is referring is a gathering of all the students in the high school, freshmen through seniors, plus faculty, standing together to form a giant “P” for “Potsdam” in the center of the turf field. This inaugurated the rest of the day’s activities and brought together a school that, because of COVID, had been separated for so long.

“Some of the kids haven’t seen each other in almost two years, so it’s good getting them back together,” said history teacher Trey Grant.

“Last year was a ghost town,” said Mr. Wilson, “and this year we’re back at full capacity.”

“Now, they’re all socializing, and that social engagement is important,” he said.

“We worry about some of the students’ anxiety having been out for a year,” he said, “but now they can finally re-acclimate themselves.”

“It’s good to have them back.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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