WEEKI WACHEE — One expects to see children and teachers at a school. But one day last week, the first day of the new school's Spirit Week, there appeared to be a host of yellow jackets swarming the campus at the new Winding Waters K-8 School.
Dec. 5 was the beginning of a weeklong celebration of spirit building, and many students and staffers dressed like yellow jackets.
Earlier in the school year, students were invited to select the school mascot from three choices: Hornets, Stingers or the winning Yellow Jackets.
Third-grader Kat Keas, 9, voted for Yellow Jackets. "I like the colors," she said, "and I like jackets."
The idea of spirit week, said assistant principal Kristina Garofaro, "is just about us forming a sense of unity, school spirit with our students and our staff. Being a new school, it's so important to have that sense of pride."
The opportunity to dress in school colors gave the students and staff a chance to wear their spirit sleeves — yellow and black arm socks obtained through a school fundraiser.
On that Monday, not only was everyone dressed in yellow, black and green at various times during the day. Students were busy designing and decorating school pennants. They were immersed in a contest to create the best one in kindergarten through second grade and third through fifth grades.
Tuesday was Wear Your Stripes Day, and Wednesday was Mismatch Day. Thursday was Favorites Day, and students were encouraged to wear clothes sporting their athletic teams, characters or colors. During the week, classes worked on school banners, one of which would be chosen at both the kindergarten through second-grade level and the third- through fifth-grade level.
The winning class's prize was a pizza party.
Friday, School Spirit Day, was the culminating event, beginning in the morning with a staff photo, followed by a photograph of all staffers and students. During the afternoon rally, the banner and pennant winners were announced.
The Weeki Wachee High School and Winding Waters K-8 choruses performed, as did the Weeki Wachee High band.
The Winding Waters K-8 News Team presented "What Does Winding Waters Mean to You?" There were performances by the Winding Waters Student Council and the Winding Waters Spirit Group.
Some students shared their thoughts about the week.
For second-grader Winston Cassan, 7, it was a way to help students "remember our school colors."
Second-grader Haley Carlisto, 7, said the reason for Spirit Week was "so you can show off your spirit." Her classmate, Dominic Gattinella, simply said, "for us to have fun."
Third-grader Ryan Sullivan, 9, had another opinion.
"We're doing this to motivate the Yellow Jackets, and once you motivate someone, you might motivate yourself."
This year, Winding Waters only has kindergarten through Grade 5. It will add a grade level each year up to eighth grade. Students will be at the school for some time, and Garofaro said, "We wanted to start some traditions this week."
One of those will be the passing of the spirit stick.
During Spirit Week, teachers kept track of how many students participated in each of the dress-ups. The classes with the greatest numbers at the two levels gained possession of the sticks, which will be established as something for classes to strive to hold for years to come.