Opening convocations, Friday night tailgates, and parent open houses. Back to school events bring our communities together as we build relationships with new families and prepare for the new year. For the first time in a long time, our students might actually have a “normal” school year, and many SAIS schools enjoyed getting back to first day traditions while making new memories in their school communities and beyond.

Before the First Day

Days before students returned to campus, many schools were busy with facility improvements and faculty workshops.

Durham Academy lower school partnered with their Durham, NC, neighbors from The Hill Center for a professional learning day centered around the science of reading.

St. Mary’s in Memphis held a mentoring luncheon and welcomed retired school legends to join new teachers as they learned about school culture from the people that know it best. New staff also learned the “Turkey Tango,” the unofficial school song and dance from former teachers and administrators.

Cadets at Benedictine Military School in Savannah were welcomed back with several cafeteria upgrades including a new pizza and pasta station. Benedictine recognizes that the cafeteria provides more than a quick school lunch — rather, it offers a well-balanced nutritious meal that will fuel students for both academic and athletic pursuits.

Family Fun

Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in Rabun Gap, GA, celebrated with a Community Day filled with food, fun, and friends. Families from all three divisions enjoyed swimming, games, and giant slides.

Kindergarteners and their senior buddies enjoyed popsicle treats at Episcopal of Baton Rouge.

The Duke School in Durham, NC, welcomed families to their annual Screen on the Green event with a movie and shaved ice treats for all.

Coming Together as a Community

CEO Brett Jacobsen and Head of School Kristy Lundstrom from The Mount Vernon School in Atlanta shared inspirational and motivational messages of coming together and doing the hard work during the school’s opening convocation. Mount Vernon’s battle cry for the school year is “Let’s Do This,” as students are challenged to create, design, explore, and grow.

Eighth graders at the University School of Nashville welcomed new middle school students with notes, treats, and locker decorations on their first day.

The young men of Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville enjoyed a donut break while learning about the school’s 87 clubs and activities. Offerings include a drone club, disc golf, Envirothon, The Red Poet Society, and many other academic, athletic, and fine arts focused clubs.

Serving Others

Second graders from Clayton Bradley Academy in Maryville, TN, collected diapers and baby wipes as part of their service project to support Helping Mommas Knoxville. While these second graders may not make the best babysitters, this video will make you smile.

The senior class at Porter-Gaud School started off their school year by working alongside other local organizations to make 20,000 meals for Charleston area food banks as part of their Senior Day of Caring.

Real World Ready

One of the hallmarks of Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School is their Corporate Work Study Program. Atlanta area companies create work study opportunities to build confidence, job experience, and real-life skills for the students at Cristo Rey. The kickoff to their year is Draft Day, where teams of students are paired with corporations like Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Delta, and Comcast with all of the anticipation, commentary, and confetti of a professional sports league draft.

Becoming a Member of the House

Over the past few years, many schools have adopted a house system with a sorting ceremony during the first week of school. A house system can look different from school to school, but all provide opportunities for leadership, friendship, mentorship, and a little bit of friendly competition.

Fifth graders at the Randolph School in Huntsville, AL, were sorted into five houses: Chie (wisdom), Diskobre (discovery), Ote Watu (all people), Valor (bravery), and Vanskap (friendship) during their house induction ceremony.

House inductions at Augusta Prep in Augusta, Georgia, included all first graders and new students. Houses are named for the school’s four pillars of character: Fidelitas, Gratia, Integritas, and Respectus.

The house system at the Schenck School in Atlanta inspires their students to be confident and successful as they foster friendship and school spirit. The Schenck houses are Ignis (fire), Solis (sun), Terra (earth), and Tempus (time).

But no one does house sorting like the Ron Clark Academy (RCA) in Atlanta. RCA’s sorting ceremony was broadcast live on their Facebook page with passionate and inspirational introductions by house leaders, a live band, and a professional athletic event style play-by-play and predictions from faculty commentators. Each new RCA 4th grade student had an opportunity to walk up to the sorting wheel, spin, and be sorted into one of four houses: Altruismo, the house of givers; Amistad, the house of friendship; Isibindi, the house of courage; and Reveur, the house of dreamers. The energy was electric as upperclassmen, parents, and staff members waited to see where the wheel would sort each student. With fanfare and celebration, they were welcomed to their new houses.

We hope that your new year is off to a great start! We love to hear stories from our schools. If you would like to share what is great about your school, please email