When schools and parent groups take the time to welcome everyone, generate excitement, and communicate a sense of unity and common identity, something bigger happens: True spirit is created. PTOs that make building school spirit a priority instill a sense of pride in their students that can yield lots of good results. The following ideas can boost spirit at your school from the very first day.

Let Them Brag

Set up an opportunity for building spirit from the start by setting up a “brag board” near the school entrance that allows teachers, parents, and students to respond to a prompt like “What excites you about this year?” or “What’s been your proudest accomplishment so far?”

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Pick a Theme

Themed spirit days are practically guaranteed to keep kids excited about school. Examples include backward day, silly shoes or wacky socks day, decades day (’60s, ’70s, ’80s, etc.), and Hawaiian day.

30 Ideas for School Spirit Days

Play in the Dirt

Kids and adults alike can feel a sense of pride by taking on an outdoor school project like cleaning up the grounds or planting or weeding a garden.

Go High-Tech

Take a cue from the Kingsview Middle School PTSA in Germantown, Md., which posted event details and photos of its talent show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with a dedicated hashtag. That kind of branding not only encourages school spirit; it also gives your event a fresh and current vibe.

Be in the Moment

Finding casual ways to gather the school community to celebrate events and successes in real time—for example, when a sports team is headed to a big game, assemble the other students to clap team members onto the bus.

Celebrate Differences

Many school communities are home to a wide variety of nationalities and cultures. Give students and families an opportunity to share pride in their heritage by hosting multicultural events like potlucks.

Offer Support

Building unity and spirit isn’t just about holding pep rallies and having fun together—sometimes, it’s about banding together during tough situations. No one can anticipate difficult events, but rallying during such times can make a community even closer.

Such was the case with Lyons (Colo.) Elementary, whose town and residents suffered after severe flooding in 2014. The group persevered by crowdsourcing outside the local area and holding its annual jogathon as a morale-booster for the school community.

More recently, Littleton (Mass.) Middle School students wore shirts representing the colors of the rainbow to show support for the victims of the nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla. In doing so, they not only showed that they cared but also helped build their own sense of togetherness.