Carnival of Connections

Looking back at the school carnival the first week of school


More stories from Chloe Entrican

Driven to Dance
June 19, 2021

Photo courtesy of Chloe Entrican

In spite of the usually scary connotation of Friday the 13th, this day was filled with nothing but the excitement and laughter of students around campus. Just three days after school began, administration held the first ever carnival at Rocklin High. This carnival was not like one seen in the movies, with a ferris wheel or clowns, but rather one with its own Rocklin twist. 

Not only were there games, a car show and a soda stand, but even a dance performance, water balloon contest and countless other activities. Team events varying from volleyball, to spikeball, to basketball were set up and ready for anyone to join. 

“The idea came from Mr. Stewart, his idea of ‘we need to be able to get kids back and create a different feel and vibe’ … he wanted to create a degree of normalcy.”

 When describing the inspiration behind the event, one of the main carnival coordinators, Video Production teacher Ryan O’Donnell stated, “Every Fourth of July, on my street, my family does a big party that always has water balloons, and it’s really a big hit [for] all ages — I was like, we gotta have this.”

Mr. O’Donnell and Athletic Director Ryan Spears often host game shows or other fun things around campus, which they have been doing for a long time. So it came as no shock that students saw Mr. O’Donnell running around the carnival with a ginormous blue hat on his head. 

This fun, light-hearted spirit is just what Rocklin needed after the previous uneventful, restricted COVID school year. O’Donnell explained, “The idea came from Mr. Stewart, his idea of ‘we need to be able to get kids back and create a different feel and vibe’ … he wanted to create a degree of normalcy.”

When Mr. O’Donnell and Mr. Spears received Principal Dave Stewart’s call, the brainstorming process began. “We started throwing around possible things that we could do. My addition is that I grew up going to the county fair all the time as a kid and I love that there are always different options,” Mr. O’Donnell stated. 

Once they hit the ground running, it was all hands on deck. After meeting with all the teachers, Mr. O’Donnell had to focus on distributing the work as much as possible, “I was trying to get enough staff members. We had to find out which ones would really get super involved and lead stuff.” 

Even though he was the one to coordinate it, he couldn’t do it all on his own. He reached out to other teachers around campus, that way, the amount of work was more spread out and handled smoothly. “They all did it by themselves, basically everything we wanted to happen did happen, and some of it was even last minute. . .It was challenging, but really rewarding to see all of those staff members help out and step up.”

For some events, like the car-show, they had no idea if it would come together in such a short time. “There was no time to talk about it on the morning show or ASB. We just had to hope. The morning of, I was standing there and watching these cars come in. That was rewarding.”

Not only did the teachers contribute, but so did members of the Parent Club, which is an outside organization that takes in money from donations and puts them towards the school. “I called [the Parent Club] with like two weeks to go and we were like can you help us, which they did,” Mr. O’Donnell explained. As a result, the carnival ended up costing virtually nothing for the school.

With the success of the first school carnival, many staff members are looking forward to continuing it in following years. “A lot of people are in my ear like ‘you know what we should do next year?’ but we haven’t had a formal get together to really talk about what we will be able to do in the future. However, the consensus of what I’ve heard is that everyone else wants to continue doing this,” Mr. O’Donnell shared. 

It is fair to say that some may have had suspicions going into the carnival, questioning how it would play out. “As the planners of it, we knew of the suspicions that [students and staff] could have, but not a lot of people voiced them to us,” Mr. O’Donnell stated, “it was the uneasiness of the unknown.” However, not only was this carnival successful in connecting students to the campus but teachers as well. “I remember walking around and seeing Mr. Wagner talking to kids, other people painting rocks. The staff, as well, was really able to participate and just talk to kids,” Mr. O’Donnell explained.

When it came to the kids, their smiling faces really told it all, “I would like to see a whole day dedicated to the carnival and games for next year…  It was fun meeting new people while playing games,” Junior Max Ogden shares from his experience at the carnival. 

Another student, Senior Katherine Mason, who performed for dance at the carnival, expressed, “Dance has been a big part of my life and it allows me to be expressive without saying a word. The carnival that we performed at was super fun and I hope we can have one next year.”