Railer Palooza is big hit


Caleb Smith

Discussing particulars of their program, students from the RailerRobotics group present to a crowd at Railer Palooza, hosted in the NHS commons on Aug. 11.

Elly Green, Print Production Manager

After a long summer of planning and preparation, NHS administration and staff hosted a new welcoming event called “Railer Palooza.” With everything from club and student activity booths, to athletic booths and even local colleges, the event was more or less a way to get new and returning students involved and excited for the school year, said Principal Caleb Smith, who came up with the idea.

Smith said that past high schools that he has worked at always had a “Palooza” event to amp up the student body for the new school year. For example, at Derby where Smith used to teach the event was called “Panther Palooza.” 

“When I started doing [Palooza events] at Derby and Valley Center we would get way more people that would come to see their teachers than other schools,” Smith said. “So it was just a way to incentivize parents to come meet the teachers.” 

Many hands and minds were used to make this event a reality for the high school. Smith pointed out several administrators and teachers that were big helping hands, but it was also up to the students to make it happen. Almost all club booths were student-run, so the students involved in the club had an opportunity to show the club off for potential new members. For example, student council (STUCO) hosted a booth encouraging incoming freshmen to sign up for the upcoming freshmen class STUCO elections. 

We hoped to have as many freshmen as we could come by so we could talk to them about running and talk about the different things we do,” Student Body Secretary/Treasurer senior Jennifer Rubio said. “We don’t just need people to run, but we need supporters as well. Student involvement is really important to us, so the more people that are involved, the better.” 

On the night of the event, STUCO held what they called a “shindig” with games, snacks and chances to meet new people. Rubio believes students should be involved in activities because it gives every student something unique and fun to do during the school year, which is why STUCO reaches out a hand for new members each year. 

We spread the word about STUCO because we love seeing people grow throughout their years here at NHS and put their leadership skills to use,” Rubio said. “Every committee has something fun to do that usually involves the rest of the community and not just the student body, such as our blood drives, food drives and other donation drives.”

The attendance rate of Railer Palooza came in at around 400 families, which is almost 50% of the school’s population. According to Smith, club sponsors reported signing more new members at Railer Palooza than any other year. After the event, a survey was sent out to parents and students asking what can be improved for years to come. 

“There is a committee that Mr. Skinner leads called the freshman success committee, that’s where the Reality 101 class came out of,” Smith said. “They are going to take the feedback that we received from the survey and they’re going to look at those results and decide how to make changes to make it better next year. They’ll be working on that as soon as next month to get ready for next year’s Railer Palooza.” 

The event was all around a chance for kids to get involved and see what all was offered at the high school. Smith says that looking at most high school drop-outs, the majority of them were disconnected from the school and community. 

“One of the biggest indicators of graduation is whether or not you are able to find a connection within the building,” Smith said. “When you look at kids that dropout usually they are the ones that didn’t get connected with a [club, organization, or sport]. We’re trying to help kids at NHS feel more connected in the building.”