There’s No Place Like hOMe

My Experience at Welcome hOMe

If there is one thing Oakland Mills is determined to have people understand, is that there is a true devotion to having a strong community. This goes even further with a little gathering called “Welcome hOMe.” 

Created and run by a few of our own Oakland Mills’ staff members, such as Mrs. Fick, Mrs. Florida, Mrs. Hewitt, Mr. Ringgold, and Mr. Berry, Welcome hOMe is offered to the whole student body. It was created not just for students to talk and get to know each other while enjoying a slice of pizza, but, more importantly, to provide a safe space for students to connect. Welcome hOMe breaks down the boundary between students and staff, giving students a voice. It allows a student to talk about what in Oakland Mills they think could be better and what they feel is working. It also gives space for students to vent about personal issues with plenty of people there to listen without judgment.

Now with all that in mind, I did not enter Welcome hOMe with a comfortable feeling. The thought of having to share my experiences with people I barely knew made me nervous, and on top of that, we were assigned to a specific group, which did not help at all. However, my fears were unnecessary since it was not bad at all. For one, since we were all pretty uncomfortable with each other at the start, the teacher who was assigned to us was more than happy to share some of his personal experiences and ask plenty of follow-up questions when we spoke. This really eased things along the way, so thank you so much, Mr. Hayman. Then, let’s not forget about the plenty of activities like “You’ve Got Mail,” “Diversity Line,” and “Entourage” which all played a part in creating a fun and open atmosphere. We even got to see other sides of some of the staff in OM which expands on our concept of community. Welcome hOMe was truly a refreshing experience that you do not receive in most schools. 

Welcome hOMe might not be the most comfortable place to speak about certain topics initially, but it definitely becomes a safe place. There are plenty of happy and laughable moments, even some sad ones, but in the end, it is something you can definitely look back on with a smile on your face. So, like Mrs. Florida said, “Let us leave here with an understanding of different people’s experiences, and allow them to feel welcomed.”

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