Students at Independence Elementary School were greeted on the first day of school Thursday with a video message from Fisherman Fred, played by Principal Lisa Raiford, and Fisherman Red, played by administrative assistant Melanie Johnston.

The administrators explained to the students the Fish Philosophy principles: be there, participate, choose that positive attitude and make someone’s day, a news release from the school said.

The first “big fish” are Jaylon Hampton and Denycea Day. The students had positive attitudes, completed all tasks, and participated in all activities during the first day of school, the news release said.

The students at IES also learned about this school year’s theme: SWAMP, School-Wide Achievement of Mastery and Perseverance.

Raiford told the students that perseverance is the key to success, and students must experience struggles and failures before they will ever achieve the determination they need to succeed, the release said.

This year, teachers will focus on teaching students strategies to develop perseverance though problem solving, literacy and writing across the content areas, and cooperative group experiences.

Teachers spent the first few days of school in professional development exploring strategies and methods to teach students problem solving, writing and literacy skills.