Georgia high school takes student engagement to the next level

It’s only his first year at Manchester High School in Georgia, but Principal DeMarcos “Marco” Holland plans on making it count. 

For starters, he decided to tackle the school’s ample number of tardies head-on, and he did this by exchanging a class bell for some upbeat tunes. 

“On average, based on what we’re doing we have less than 10 students tardy,” said Holland. “I think last year we had between 50-60 students that were tardy. Our goal is to get it to five and below.” 

But Holland’s goals extend far beyond creating punctual students. His hope is to equip them with skills that they will benefit from throughout their lives. 

“If we can instill in our students a passion for what they’re doing, they’ll be a happier person and a more productive person,” he said.

It was this desire to encourage his students’ passions that led him to another great idea: having the students and teachers collaborate on making music of their own. 

“I’ve challenged our students to create their own music and their own beats,” said Holland. “Some of the music that we play is actually written by our students and our staff.” 

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Jaden Smith explains why he loves the musical class changes. 

New Manchester High School

Jaden Smith, a student at Manchester, likes the plan “because it gives students the opportunity to showcase their own music for the whole school to hear.”

In addition to music, Holland has implemented “Fantastic Fridays,” when he uses jokes and trivia to engage students on social media. When asked for an example of a joke, Holland didn’t hesitate. 

“How do you communicate with a fish?” Holland asked. “Well, you drop it a line.”

While Holland says it’s “just funny stuff to get our students engaged,” he’s also hoping to teach them how to use social media in a positive way that benefits them in the future. 

“We’ll encourage them to tweet a response,” said Holland. “We do all of this publicly so that the kids get a feel for how to leverage social media as a tool.”

And the students? They seem to get quite the kick out of it. 

“The kids tell me they appreciate it,” said Holland. “They were initially shocked that we were playing music, but once I told them what it was about they embraced it.” 

It’s definitely not hard to understand why.