What a great way to start the new school year!

Yesterday our entire staff was invited to our All Staff Welcome Back Event. Because we weren’t able to host one last year, we really wanted to pull out all of the stops for this one. And with the help of our SEP Marching Band, SEP Cheerleaders, SEP Show Choir, SEP Musical, SEP Student Council, the RhythAMettes, best-selling author Jon Gordon, the Altoona Chamber of Commerce and dozens of local vendors, sponsors and volunteers, we had the motivating morning we all needed to take on this next school year!

The morning started with our staff being greeted by our high school Student Council and local volunteers handing out bags filled with donated items from our community and a hand-signed book from Jon Gordon. He came the night before and signed 1000 books to be ready that morning for every staff member.

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Jon Gordon Book Signing 3



Altoona Hy-Vee provided a hearty breakfast to start us off on the right foot. We were welcomed back by our SEP School Board and the Altoona Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Halupnik, our Superintendent, reminded us that each and every one of our staff has an awesome responsibility and a critical role to each and every one of our students. But we can’t do it alone. It takes all of us working together as a team. Working together as one unified organization.  Working together as One SEP. We are using this mantra to help keep us focused and motivated this year so search for it on social media at #1SEP to see all of the things we are doing across all buildings, all departments, all of SEP.

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Next, we had some fun introducing all of our new building leadership and recognizing new staff hired in both 2020 (since we couldn’t do it last year) and 2021.

But that was just the beginning! The SEP Marching Band surprised then wowed the crowd by doing a routine through the auditorium aisles, hallways and stage! They brought the crowd to their feet! Joined by our SEP High School Cheer Squad, we had a mini pep rally to get us fired up for our keynote speaker, Jon Gordon.

Jon is the best-selling author of dozens of motivating and inspirational books including the Energy Bus and the book that was given to everyone, The Power of a Positive Team. His genuine, sincere and funny approach kept us captivated for an hour. He said his goal is that “he says something today that will inspire you to take action tomorrow.” Goal accomplished! He provided specific ideas that all of us can use every day at work and home. He stayed during our networking session to allow our staff to talk with him and take pictures. It was an amazing experience!

During the networking session, we encouraged our staff to reconnect with each other. We invited all of our new staff to gather in one area so the rest of our staff could introduce themselves. Several new contacts were made. We also had our tech department showcase the new classroom technology, had members from our Benefits, Payroll and Employee Family Resources available to answer questions, and other opportunities for our staff to re-energize!

A couple of our high school 2021 grads created an emotional welcome back video that helped remind us of why we all do what we do – the students! Follow this link to view it: Welcome Back Rams!

Dr. Halupnik provided a very informational update on all of the capital projects that we have underway and coming in the future. We are so thankful for the support from our community and the opportunities for these exciting times in our district!

Next, we had some fun testing our staff’s knowledge about Southeast Polk! Who knew our teachers could be so competitive?! Both tenured and new staff learned something new about our great district and had fun doing it!

To top off the morning, the last surprise for the staff was an amazing performance from our national award-winning RhythAMetteS! It was a celebration!

For the first time, we offered our staff lunch with a “Taste of SEP.” Several local vendors came to the high school commons to provide a ton of delicious food options for our staff to choose from.IMG 8234













The SEP Show Choir serenaded us during lunch and every staff member received a “We Are #1SEP” t-shirt.

Thank you to each and every group, volunteer, local company and the Altoona Chamber of Commerce for your donations of time, money, and/or food to make this a special day to help our staff start the new school year. We are One SEP!

Check out this gallery of photos from the morning!