Arcadia Unified’s #ArcadiaFirstDay Campaign Sees Over 900 Smiles

Photo slideshow of some of this year's #ArcadiaFirstDay photo submissions


An untraditional start to the school year has not kept Arcadia Unified School District teachers, staff, students, and families from making the best of this challenging time by maintaining their tradition of sharing hundreds of back-to-school smiles through the #ArcadiaFirstDay photo campaign.

In its seventh consecutive year of conducting this social media campaign, Arcadia Unified has collected over 900 photos of students, teachers, staff, and families (including pets!) celebrating this school year’s return to learning for its 2020 #ArcadiaFirstDay Facebook photo album.

“This has become such a special staple in our district,” said Arcadia Unified Superintendent Dr. David Vannasdall. “It’s been especially uplifting this year and makes me so proud to see all of the smiles, creative workspaces, innovation, and overall positive energy pouring in through these photos.”

Created by Arcadia Unified’s Chief Communications Officer, Ryan Foran, to kick-off the 2014-2015 school year, the #ArcadiaFirstDay campaign has captured thousands of first-day memories in an annual photo album every year since.

“Part of my role in Arcadia Unified’s Communications and Public Information Office is to share with the community all of the great things happening in our district,” said Foran. “The genuine excitement that our students, parents, teachers, and staff have in returning to school for a new year of learning is definitely one of those capstone moments and has been a very special source of positivity with this unique start to the year.”

The social media campaign is simple and straightforward, Foran explained. Arcadia Unified sends an email to staff and families a couple of days before school starts encouraging them to submit their back-to-school photos to its email address or to use the hashtag #ArcadiaFirstDay when posting on Facebook or Twitter. Photos submitted via email receive a “thank you” email back, which also confirms receipt of the photo(s). Arcadia Unified’s Public Information Office staff also search for photos using the hashtag #ArcadiaFirstDay on social media. Photos received by email and pulled from Facebook and Twitter are then added to one large Facebook photo album. 

“We currently have hundreds of positive reactions to our Facebook album and have received very nice emails accompanying the emailed photo submissions,” said Foran.

One Arcadia Unified parent’s email response noted, “Thank you so much for creating this photo album for the Arcadia Unified District students.”

Another parent shared, “Thank you for putting all the beautiful photos together.”


Typically, Foran and his team are out on school campuses to help photograph first-day memories, most times taking nearly 200 photos that are added to the album, but due to the Distance Learning start to the year, this could not happen this year; however, having received north of 900 photos from parents, teachers, and staff this year, this is the most participated in #ArcadiaFirstDay campaign yet, shared Foran.

In addition to this social media campaign, Arcadia Unified has also used another hashtag through this time of Distance Learning and created a #schoolsclosedheartsopen video comprised of photos, videos, and news segments of district-wide efforts made to make the most of this unforeseen time.



Bolstering why it was able to quickly pivot to implementing a strong virtual learning environment, Arcadia Unified has been named in the top 1% of Best School Districts in California by, and for the second consecutive year in 2018-2019, Arcadia Unified was named to the Educational Results Partnership Honor Roll. For more information about the Arcadia Unified School District, visit