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Students at Poinsettia Elementary School perform a makeshift “Chicken dance” on Aug. 24 during an assembly led by Principal Rob Devich.
Students at Poinsettia Elementary School perform a makeshift “Chicken dance” on Aug. 24 during an assembly led by Principal Rob Devich. Steve Puterski photo
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CUSD students back to school

CARLSBAD — The buzz was alive with students pouring through the gates for the first day of school on Aug. 24 in the Carlsbad Unified School District.

At Poinsettia Elementary School, Principal Rob Devich greeted students and parents as the anticipation for the new school year hit a crescendo. The day began with a schoolwide assembly, parents included, as Devich showcased his teachers and his top priorities — responsibility and treating others with respect.

The kids also engaged in a pseudo chicken dance, with Devich as the lead, as they eagerly awaited to get into class.

“It’s exciting for all the students and families to return,” he said. “They all some of that summer fatigue and are looking forward to a brand new and exciting school year.”

Devich has been a principal for 23 years, 21 in CUSD with stops at Kelly, Pacific Rim and now Poinsettia elementary schools. Going back to his teaching days, Devich has always stressed a positive and uplifting start to the school day by greeting students at the front door.

Poinsettia Elementary School Principal Rob Devich greets two students on Aug. 24 on the first day of school for the 2022-23 year. The school began with a welcome back assembly with students and parents to ring in the new year.
Poinsettia Elementary School Principal Rob Devich greets two students on Aug. 24 on the first day of school for the 2022-23 year. The school began with a welcome back assembly with students and parents to ring in the new year. Steve Puterski photo

He doles out fist bumps, high fives and words of encouragement to each student walking through the doors. He said being consistent has a long-term impact on the kids as positive reinforcement helps lift the kids with their schoolwork.

As for academic achievement, Devich said it’s a byproduct of a positive atmosphere, starting from the top down. He, along with the staff, reinforce their code of responsibility, treating others with respect, and third, try your best.

With those principles in place, he said the kids naturally respond and required testing shows the final results. He shy’s away from talking about where his students stand to avoid complacency, and instead channels his energy into his students and their success.

“It’s a very good way to start the school day when there’s a welcome wagon out front,” Devich said. “I try to make sure I communicate that I’m glad to see them every day. It’s part of the master plan.”

The plan, he said, puts systems in place where students feel cared for, which creates and sets expectations of what is required from the kids. As the plan flows, Devich and his staff get to work, and it culminates each month with an assembly where kids earn awards.

He said by the end of each school year, every student will have earned an award, which helps bolster their confidence and performance, and cements the school’s three core principles of responsibility, respect and trying their best.

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