Students grateful for annual Student Appreciation Week

During Student Appreciation Week, which took place from March 28 to April 1, staff and faculty went out of their way to recognize students’ hard work throughout the school year. This particular week was one of the last regular school weeks before STAAR exams and College Board AP tests begin, and it celebrated the final push of the school year. To commemorate the week, staff planned activities on each day of the week for students to participate in

“We saw what [Student Appreciation Week] did to build community for the student,” Principal Steve Ramsey said. “Last year, we had a lot of kids at home that didn’t have this opportunity. Our mindset was ‘let’s come together, build a community, and let kids do things they normally don’t do at school.’ Sometimes we forget we’re dealing with 14 year to 18 year olds, you’re still kids. There are times to have a break and lower academic expectations. This week gives you enough time to reflect and have fun with each other.”

On the first day, 20 students were randomly selected every period from third period to eighth period to pick up an Amazon gift card and candy of their choice. Freshman Jordan Bessette was one of the 120 students who were selected. 

“To be one of the few people out of 3000 students to win is pretty incredible,” Jordan said. “I was shocked at first, but my teacher started rushing me out of the room to try and get one of the [$50 or $40 gift cards.] I was not expecting to hear my name called at all!”

The festivities continued on Tuesday. Photo booths were set up throughout the school, giving students the opportunity to take fun pictures with their friends. In addition to this, students had the opportunity to answer the trivia question, “How many Chaparral Stadium tickets were sold during the football season?” The top 125 contestants received a $20 Amazon gift card. Freshman Rehan Ali was one of the top 125 contestants in the trivia competition.

“It was really fun competing with the whole school to answer this one question,” Rehan said. “I think we should do something like this more often where the whole school is trying to answer a trivia question with a prize at the end.”

On Wednesday, the school brought vendors who handed out funnel cake, cotton candy and Jim-Jim’s snow cones to students for free outside the Chap Court. 

“I loved it,” Freshman Johnathan Marshalek said. “The funnel cake was so good – I couldn’t stay away. I didn’t mind waiting in line to get the cake [because] it was definitely worth it. I thought it was a great idea to bring in treats to alleviate some stress.”

On Thursday, the school opened a one-day petting zoo by the football practice fields. Animals present include bunnies, goats, ducks, ponies and chickens. Students had the opportunity to feed, pet or hold the animals.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect much from the petting zoo,” Aidan said. “I thought it would just be a few animals, and I wasn’t looking forward to going to it beforehand. But it was so much better than I expected. Holding and feeding the animals was great, and I got a lot of good pictures with them.”

To wrap it up on Friday, the Westlake Jazz band performed live during lunch in the courtyard outside the Chap Court. Additionally, students and faculty could buy burgers fresh off the grill in the courtyard as well. Ten students and a staff member were also randomly selected to select the largest prizes of the week, with each prize valued at above 100 dollars.

“I think this week has been really beneficial for students,” Rehan said. “The activities have provided something for us to look forward to during the day. It takes some of the stress of tests and homework away. I had a lot of fun and am excited for this week next year!”