The Presence of Pizza Encourages the Presence of Students at Carver Middle School

Leaders at Carver Middle School know that good attendance helps lead to good grades, so improving attendance was one of the goals of the school this year.   

CIS Site Coordinator Barbie Peeples-Golden, along with school administrators and the CIS Site Team, came up with a plan to motivate students to attend daily, especially during the CRCT.  

"Our attendance last year for CRCT over the five days, we had an average of 10 students per day absent.  Our average over the five days this year was 5 students.   Several days we had as few as 2 out,"
 said Kay Pruitt, principal's secretary and a member of the CIS Site Team.  

What accounts for this 50% reduction in absences?  PIZZA! ...and a few other prizes.

Students line up to claim their reward for excellent attendance during the CRCT
The attendance promotion offered students a pizza party for every homeroom with perfect attendance for the week of testing.   Thirty one classes made it and received pizza from Papa John's, who provided it at a discounted price.

In addition, students were entered into drawings for iPods, Wal-Mart gift cards and other prizes based on their attendance.  In all, more than 87 prizes were donated to the school and given away to students. 

Encouraging good attendance is important, not only to meet standards, but also as a basis for learning.  It should go without saying that students who have good attendance do better in school.  Good attendance is also a workplace skill that, when developed early, will serve students well for the rest of their lives. 


A Chance to Give Back

The chance to give back is one of the basic things that Communities In Schools believes every child needs and deserves.  Serving others helps build self-esteem and empowers kids to see themselves as having something of value to offer to the world.  That's why students at the Performance Learning Center were given the opportunity to create their own service project through a Learn and Serve Grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

The project, which was planned as parts of classroom assignments in math, science, writing and social studies, was designed to focus on healthy habits.  PLC students partnered with members of the Monroe Area High School Future Farmers of America to plant vegetables in the campus greenhouse and garden plot.

"The students really enjoyed being outside and working with the plants," said Kelly Howell, FFA advisor. "They had fun learning about gardening, which will be a great skill they can use their entire lives."

Once the plants were ready, students took them to the Boys & Girls Club in Monroe, where they worked with the younger students in a Healthy Choices Fair.

PLC students taught the kids how to read a nutrition label, how to count the calories burned by different exercises and how to brush their teeth properly.  Each child had their height and weight measured.  Other PLC students showed them how to make snacks with the vegetables grown in the garden and other healthy foods.

"I didn't know I liked yogurt," said Mikey, a third grader at the Boys & Girls Club.  Debbie Jackson, a local caterer with A Better Bite in Monroe, volunteered to help with the snacks.  "My goal was to let them try some things they might not have tasted before." she said.  "We offered them dried fruit, yogurt, hummus, tomatoes, whole wheat pita bread, fresh-cut pineapple, blueberry juice and more."

At the end of the event, each child from the Boys & Girls Club was given a tomato plant to grow at home, a toothbrush and Dr. Seuss's "The Things You Can Do That Are Good For You," purchased for them through FirstBook.

"I liked working with the little kids," said Jasmine, a PLC student.  "They looked up to us and we taught them something that was important for them to know."

It Pays to Be Good at Social Circle Elementary

Nearly three quarters of the students at Social Circle Elementary School quietly went about their business this year, doing their homework, raising their hands, walking in orderly lines.  For the most part, teachers had very little cause to correct them.  Little did they know that the end of the school year would bring a big pay-off for their good behavior.

Students check out an item up for bid
During one of the last weeks of school, more than 300 students were treated to the "It Pays to Be Good" Celebration, organized by the school's CIS Site Team.  Site Coordinator Debra Rakestraw and her committee gathered up door prizes that the students bought with behavior bucks, play money that was awarded according to the number of cuts (low-level discipline reprimands) that a student received over the whole school year.

Friends pitched in their play money
to help this lucky young lady bid
2000 bucks for a talking Justin Bieber doll.
During a live auction, students craftily pooled their money and divided the spoils.  One girl, known as the school's biggest Justin Bieber fan, received donations from her classmates hand-over-fist until she could make the winning bid of $2000 on a talking action figure of the pop star.  A group of students chipped in on a summer fun bag, then split its contents of flip-flops, pool goggles, sand toys and other goodies, while others walked away with basketballs, a slip'n'slide, and other fun items.

With their remaining funds, students could shop from a stand set up with dollar-store items including posters, toys, stickers, figurines and other items, plus snacks, drinks and admission to the inflatable water slide that was set up for the end of the afternoon.  Students enjoyed water fun on the slide plus a good shower from the top of the fire truck, which also came out to reward the kids.

Admission to the water slide...two bucks.
Being sprinkled by the
fire truck...priceless

"No one has ever done anything like this for us," said one 4th grade student.  "Thank you so much!"  

Debra Rakestraw, CIS Site Coordinator and organizer of the event, said that her first idea was to do something special for a handful of kids who had made good progress in turning around unacceptable behavior. But on second thought, she decided to reward all of the students who had done the right things all year.  "So many students do what they are supposed to do all the time, and they get nothing for it," she said.  We spend a lot of time correcting problems, and sometimes we just need to give credit for being good."