Evart Elementary begins The Leader In Me Schools program EVART \u2014 There were hearty hugs, goodbye kisses and a few tears shed on the first day back at Evart Public Schools. Middle and high school students were busy reconnecting with friends and tracking down their classes. Students at Evart Elementary began their first day on Thursday, Aug. 25, with \u201cWe Will Rock You\u201d echoing down the hallways and teachers giving each of them a rock. A rock? \u201cThe rock is all part of The Leader in Me Schools program,\u201d said principal Sarah Bailey. \u201cThe program is a proactive approach by implementing Stephen Covery\u2019s \u2018The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People\u2019 in a school setting.\u201d She said teachers and staff will try to instill these habits in students throughout the year: Be proactive; Begin with the end in mind; Put first things first; Think win-win; Seek first to understand, then to be understood; Synergize; and Sharpen the saw. The approach by teachers and staff, Bailey said, will be much different than in past years. \u201cWe are looking to help students apply and bridge those situations not only in the school situation, but in the community as well, to reach their full potential,\u201d she said. Bailey explained the leadership team met throughout last school year to explore the program. \u201cWe did a book study and visited an elementary in Big Rapids,\u201d she said. \u201cWe really felt it was the right thing for Evart Elementary.\u201d Bailey said staff members at the school completed three days of professional development ahead of Thursday and Friday\u2019s half-days, and hope the new program sets the tone for the entire year. \u201cWe\u2019re pretty excited about it,\u201d she said. \u201cWe\u2019re providing them with all the tools to become effective leaders. \u201cThis goes beyond the school. We\u2019re hoping we can engage the whole community in the process. We are planning parent initiatives and programs, and want to touch the entire community with the seven habits.\u201d Meanwhile, Bailey said the first day of school is always exciting for staff members, students and parents. \u201cThe big thing is for teachers to help the students feel comfortable, welcome and ready for the year ahead,\u201d she said. The other schools in the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District begin classes on Monday, Aug. 29.